Nestle's voluntary sodium target support aligns with its health-focused strategy
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Mars' stance on the FDA's voluntary sodium reduction targets.
- Nestle voiced its support Thursday for the FDA's potential voluntary targets for sodium reduction in the U.S. food supply, apart from many others in the industry who have called foul on the government's initiative.
- The company also said in a statement that it would increase the number of foods and beverages in its portfolio that "could reasonably fit into a dietary pattern that contains less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium per day." About 43% of Nestle's products currently meet that target.
- Nestle is approaching members of Congress, who could potentially block funding for this type of initiative, to demonstrate its support of the sodium reduction targets, sources told Quartz.
This announcement is the latest in Nestle's transformation into a scientifically-driven nutrition, health, and wellness company. That shift is two-fold.
First, Nestle is making adjustments to the ingredients of its existing products to make them better align with the health values and concerns of consumers today. That has included removing artificial ingredients from categories like chocolate candy, frozen pizza, and most recently, ice cream products. In the latter category, Nestle has also removed high fructose corn syrup and GMO ingredients from certain products.
But the company is also pushing forward in new segments of health and wellness-based products, including medical foods. Ed Baetge, Ph.D, director at Nestle Institute of Health Sciences, told Bloomberg he believes foods can serve as the foundation for a new medication delivery method for either preventative care or treatments for acute and chronic diseases. Another company, Hormel, announced earlier this week a new line of medical foods, Hormel Vital Cuisine, developed for cancer patients to help them combat the loss of energy and muscle mass during treatments.
To meet certain health-related goals for products, reformulation may not be enough. Manufacturers that want to achieve health standards with products may increase R&D investments and/or form partnerships with other medical organizations to play a role in the growing medical foods business.
Mars announced last month that it would support the FDA's voluntary sodium reduction targets (the first company to announce this publicly), and adopt the WHO nutrition guidelines to guide product reformulation, the first major manufacturer to do so. Those changes include Mars' commitment to reducing sodium by an additional 20% in five years.