How Nestlé and others are tackling salt reduction

The multinational company has committed to reducing sodium in its products globally by 10% by 2020, but how are they going about it?

18 December 2018

In October, Nestlé’s iconic, family-focused Maggi range had a revamp in the UK and Ireland. The noodles and recipe mixes were reformulated to contain 25% less salt compared with the market average.

How they’ve managed to reduce the salt content so dramatically is a sworn secret, but Nestlé suggests that extensive research and development has allowed them to replace sodium with “more vegetables and original flavours from vegetables, herbs and spices, grains and other nutrient-rich ingredients.”

The reformulation is part of the brand’s Simply Good initiative, encouraging and supporting customers to make better food choices.

“By reducing salt and saturated fat and using more ingredients people know and love, Maggi is making it that little bit easier for families to understand exactly what goes into the food they are preparing for their loved ones and be confident they are making a good choice,” explained Daniel Wheeler, Maggi marketing manager at Nestlé UK and Ireland. 

To coincide with the relaunch, Maggi was given a new, more contemporary visual identity, with a real focus on flavour, and clearer signposting to help shoppers navigate the range on-shelf.

The relaunch is taking place alongside other initiatives aiming to satisfy health-conscious consumers and benefit from high-growth categories like children’s nutrition. Nestlé for Healthier Kids launched earlier this year – a campaign aiming to help 50m children lead healthier lives by 2030. The company continues to fortify children’s favourites with fruits, vegetables, fibre-rich grains and micronutrients.

According to chief executive Mark Schneider, “Combining the convenience of packaged foods, with healthy good nutrition, that is where our sweet spot is.”

A balancing act

Maggi’s reformulation reaffirms that the race to clean up ingredients is as much about what to put into food as what to take out. To reassure consumers Nestlé claims to use a “holistic” approach to reformulation, promising not to just replace one food enemy with another.

Action On Salt recently published an alarming report exposing excessive amounts of salt in processed meat alternatives. The report highlights that most meat-free products contain greater amounts of salt than their meat counterparts and calls on Public Health England to improve monitoring and guidance of this growing category.

So long, salt

Néstle isn’t alone in the race against salt.

Sustainable sea salt company Salt of the Earth has developed a micro-salt which is more easily absorbed by the tongue, meaning that sodium can be reduced without affecting the food’s taste. The company is investing in ways to mass-produce the salt, which will help manufacturers dramatically reduce sodium content in their products.

The Food Flavour Group is a leading European flavour research centre at the University of Nottingham. Its research supports companies trying to reduce salt in processed foods by developing new techniques and production methods.

In Portugal, the government has identified bread as the single biggest contributor to salt consumption. From January 2019, mandatory levels have been set out with no more than 1.3g per 100g allowed. This will then decrease by 0.1g each year for the following three years.

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