CHCAGO — Consumers don’t understand the majority of the sodium in their diet often comes from packaged foods and restaurants, according to new research from Mintel.
Mintel found 58% of Americans said they are watching their sodium intake with72% of consumers who are currently limiting sodium saying they cook with less salt and 64% saying they salt their foods less. Yet only 39% of consumers said they are buying fewer packaged foods, and 32% said they are eat at restaurants less often.
“These statistics show the confusion that Americans are facing when it comes to reducing sodium in their diet,” said Emily Krol, health and wellness analyst at Mintel. “The majority of sodium that people consume comes from packaged foods and restaurant fare, not what they’re preparing at home. Packaged food manufacturers and restaurants would be wise to increase the flavor of low-sodium foods using herbs or spices to combat the confusion and show customers that low sodium does not equal bad taste.”
In order to cook with less salt, most look to spices and aromatics. In fact 83% of consumers cutting back on sodium are using herbs such as rosemary, chives and cilantro with 82% using aromatics and seasonings such as curry, pepper and garlic. Also, 82% have used spices such as basil and nutmeg, and 77% have turned to infused oils.
Overall, consumers are open to a diet with less sodium. Just 21% of consumers believe low-sodium foods don’t taste as good and only 7% believe low sodium products are too expensive.
“American consumers are willing to invest in low-sodium products and restaurant options,” Ms. Krol said. “Most brands that make low-sodium products don’t overtly market them as such for fear of turning off consumers who want tasty food, but it appears people are not turned off by the idea of poor taste as previously thought.”