Food reformulation and improved consumer awareness sees salt purchases cut by 4000 tonnes

Posted by Isobel Drake on 2nd February 2009

The salt reduction efforts of members of the food industry in the UK appear to be paying dividends, according to new data from leading market insight provider, TNS Worldpanel.

Between September 2006 and September 2008, shoppers bought 3,794 tonnes less salt in five categories: bread (including morning goods such as waffles, pancakes and muffins), breakfast cereals, canned goods, crisps (potato chips), and savoury home cooking products (including table salt).

The ongoing reduction is attributed to increased consumer awareness of the importance of eating a diet that is lower in salt and the food industry’s continued reformulation of products.

TNS Worldpanel analyses the information on the nutrition labels of 100,000 food and drink products bought by 25,000 households, and found that these five categories experienced the biggest reductions in their salt contribution.

In the bread category, the data indicated that products bought by consumers over the two-year period contained an impressive 828 tonnes less salt. Shoppers reduced salt consumption by 490 tonnes when buying breakfast cereals, while the canned goods category had 573 tonnes less.

The crisps category had 210 tonnes less salt, and savoury home cooking products (incl table salt) posted the biggest salt reduction at 1,693 tonnes.

“Despite a buoyant retail food market – driven mostly by inflation – where the annual spend on food and drink in Great Britain grew by 11% between September 2006 and September 2008, and volume growth was 1.8%, there was an overall decline in the amount of salt contained in products bought,” Cathy Capelin, Strategic Insight Director at TNS Worldpanel, advised. “As a result, the average household purchased the equivalent of 1.3% less salt over the same time period.”

“This research gives us a snapshot of how salt levels are reducing, and builds on the reformulation work our members have been carrying out over many years,” Julian Hunt, FDF Director of Communications, added. “Bread and cereals are two good examples of categories where salt reduction has been ongoing for some considerable time. It also shows how educational the widespread use of front-of-pack Guideline Daily Amounts has been, with growing consumer understanding that they should consume no more than 6g of salt per day.”