Mintel sees HFCS, sodium avoidance

by Staff
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CHICAGO — Demand for low sodium and high-fructose corn syrup-free products is bringing success to companies that develop new products in these categories and highlighting their offerings, according to Mintel International’s research in a recent “Attitudes Toward Sodium and High Fructose Corn Syrup Reduction” report.

Mintel quoted a New York Times report in April that suggested the proportion of Americans who are avoiding HFCS rose from 40% in 2004 to about 53% in 2010. In addition, the report suggested the trend of avoidance is likely to continue and even increase if the economy improves and consumers become more willing to pay a premium for foods without HFCS.

Many companies are responding to public concern over the high calories associated with HFCS by replacing HFCS with zero-calorie sweeteners in some beverages, Mintel said. In some cases, food and beverage companies are replacing HFCS with sugar in their offerings.

While 64% of consumers believe HFCS is okay in moderation, 52% of consumers avoid products that list HFCS as one of its first ingredients. Therefore, Mintel suggested manufacturers will want to consider at least reducing the amount of HFCS in products where it is a primary ingredient. In addition, consumers who are more affluent and have more education are more likely to avoid HFCS.

When it comes to sodium, more than half of consumers limit their use of packaged foods due to concerns about salt. While 89% of respondents agreed that everyone needs a small amount of salt in their diet to be healthy, 57% said they limit their use of packaged foods because they believe they are high in sodium. In fact, 77% of sodium Americans consume comes from processed foods such as those in consumer packaged goods and at restaurants. Because of this, Mintel said it is likely the government will take more steps to encourage companies to offer more low sodium alternatives and possibly even change the Nutrition Facts Panel to help consumers identify foods that are high in sodium.

Despite all this, consumers still more regularly analyze trans fat, overall fat content, calories and sugar when shopping for food, so the primary reason consumers review nutrition information to begin with is concerns about weight and obesity.
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