Sodium content issues continue to be a hotbed of activity in the food industry. Hot on the heels of the New York City-led National Salt Reduction Initiative (which we blogged about here), an article in the Wall Street Journal gives us an indication on how one major brand is responding to the pressure to reduce the sodium content in its products.
PepsiCo Inc., which manufacturers the popular Lay’s brand potato chips, is developing a new “designer salt” with crystals shaped and sized in a way that reduces the amount of sodium consumers ingest while snacking. PepsiCo’s hope is that this innovation will cut sodium in its Lay’s Classic brand by 25%, and perhaps even more in its seasoned chips. This move is also consistent with PepsiCo’s stated goal of reducing the sodium in its snack products by 25% by 2015. PepsiCo anticipates it could take up to two years before the new salt is introduced in the marketplace.
This effort reflects a growing recognition within the food industry of the pressure to reduce salt content. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most Americans consume more than twice their recommended daily limit of sodium. Excessive salt intake has been linked to a litany of health problems, including high blood pressure and heart disease. The challenge for food manufacturers (specifically those who manufacture processed foods, which are the source of most of the sodium Americans consume), as the Wall Street Journal points out, is that any adjustments to sodium content will have an impact on the overall taste profile of the product. Thus, manufacturers must strike a delicate balance between health concerns and the marketability of their products to target consumers. With new U.S. dietary guidelines due to be released this year and rumblings that sodium intake recommendations will be lowered by a significant degree, we will continue to monitor this issue.