New Product Launches With Low-Sodium Claims Decline

August 31, 2012

3 Min Read
New Product Launches With Low-Sodium Claims Decline

CHICAGODespite increased awareness about the risks of too much sodium in consumers' diets and pledges from governments around the world to reduce salt levels in food, products with low/no/reduced sodium claims have seen some decline over the past years according to new findings from Mintel. Globally, launches of foods with low/no/reduced sodium claims declined 5% over the 2010-2011 period, appearing on just 2% of total food launches in 2011.

A large percentage of the global food industry remains wary of the commercial impacts of reducing salt in their products. This anxiety is well-founded, with many products positioned as low sodium forced off the shelves prematurely in recent years due to poor sales," said Chris Brockman, global food and drink analyst at Mintel.

He said manufacturers struggled to find workable salt substitutes, forcing many to rapidly pull them from the market. Efforts are being made to offer consumers alternatives to sodium. However, existing salt replacements have not caught the imagination of consumers. Consumers are concerned about salt intake, but are not willing to compromise on taste.

Globally in 2011, snacks (16%) and sauces & seasonings (14%) have emerged as the most active categories in low/no/reduced sodium claims. While in response to concerns from parents toward their young children, the baby food category accounted for 12% of new products carrying the claim globally. While breakfast cereals and bakery accounted for 10% and 11% respectively, with 8% in dairy.

Products positioned with low/no/reduced formulations such as reduced calories, fat, sugar or cholesterol, Mintel's GNPD shows a global decline of 10% over the year 2010-2011, with low/no/reduced calorie (-19%) and low/no/reduced carb products (-41%) seeing the biggest drop, followed by low/no/reduced sugar (-9%), low/no/reduced cholesterol (-9%) and low/no/reduced fat (-8%).

According to Mintel's Global New Products Database (GNPD) Europe remains the most active region in terms of product innovation, covering the same percentage in 2011 (35%) as the year before of new product launches carrying low/no/reduced sodium claims compared to 39% back in 2007. North America follows with 26% share of the global market in 2011 as opposed to 32% in 2010 and 28% in 2007. While APAC comes third covering 19% of new launches in 2011, versus 18% in 2010 and 19% in 2007.

In Europe, 3% of all new food products introduced in 2011 in the U.K. carried a low/no reduced sodium claim, a higher percentage than other key European markets with the exception of Netherlands, where 9% of all new products had the same claim. For France the figure stood at 2% in 2011; for Spain 1.4%. Italy and Germany were somewhat lower, at just 1% each.

In Asia Pacific, New Zealand took the lead, with 3% of all new food products in 2011 labeled as low/no/reduced sodium followed by Australia with 2%. Other market activity in the region included Thailand with 1.2%, South Korea (0.8%) and Singapore (0.8%). In Japan, 0.7% of new product launches carried the claims, in Taiwan 0.7%, in China 0.5% and in Vietnam 0.4%.

According to Mintel, 54% of U.S. consumers say they limit their use of packaged snacks and other packaged foods because they think they have too much salt or sodium, and 53% are concerned about the amount of salt or sodium in their diets. However, it seems consumers will not give up salt easily. In general, 49% of British consumers agree that "taste is more important to me than calories in food," while in the United States, 60% of restaurant diners typically order what they want instead of what is healthy. Moreover, when it comes to products flavored with a non-sodium or salt alternative, almost half (46%) of consumers in the United States think they don't taste as good as their traditional counterparts. In the U.K., only a relatively small proportion (22%) of consumers have purchased low salt products, and just 4% of consumers have cut back on table sauces because of health concerns.

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