What is in this article?:
“New Yorkers are smart enough to decide for themselves what to eat and drink. There is no evidence that banning drinks over 16 ounces will have an impact on obesity.”
— Eliot Hoff, spokesman, New Yorkers for Beverage Choices
Poor sales and flagging demand seem to be undoing the trend towards low- and no-sodium food products. It’s enough to make dietitians and nutritionists wring their hands.
The first sprinkling that something was up came last year, when Campbell Soup Co. announced it would reintroduce a percentage of sodium to its Select Harvest line of healthy soups. The company blamed lower sales on lower taste, a finding backed by research from Mintel indicating that 46% of U.S. consumers think low- or no-salt versions of their favorite foods just don’t measure up.
“Consumers have been resistant because food just doesn’t really taste as good,” said Kara Nielsen, trendologist at the Center for Culinary Development in San Francisco.
Manufacturers are getting the message and hesitate to promote their sodium reduction efforts. Global product introductions with a low/no/reduced sodium label dropped 5% between 2010 and last year, according to Mintel.
“The 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, a Mintel analyst.
Supermarket health experts now face something of a dilemma in deciding how to answer customer inquiries. Despite the changing attitudes, the message is the same, says Nielsen: Eat fewer processed food products — the traditional high-sodium culprit — and more fresh foods prepared at home.
Dietitians can also take heart in knowing that consumers haven’t ignored educational efforts about salt and diet. Mintel’s research found that sodium awareness remains strong. More than half of those polled (54%) said they limit the amount of salt and sodium they consume, and 53% remain concerned about it.
Yet nutritionists can’t ignore the demands of the modern palate in helping shoppers balance their food choices.
“Healthful food still needs to taste good for people to want to buy it and enjoy it,” said Nielsen.