- Manufacturers are working to comply with the Food and Drug Administration's guidelines to reduce Americans' salt intake by gradually cutting down on the amount of salt in products and coming up with new flavorings.
- Several alternate ingredients, ranging from yeast extracts to tamari-based soy sauce to different salt blends, are being tested.
- One expert with Cargill said that many manufacturers have already been able to hit the FDA's two year sodium reduction guidelines, but the more drastic 10-year guidelines might pose problems.
According to the FDA, the average American's sodium intake — about 3,400 mg per day — is nearly 50% higher than the recommendations of most experts. In June, the agency released draft targets to reduce sodium consumption — to 3,000 mg per day by 2018, and to 2,300 mg per day by 2016.
While gradual product reformulation and salt reduction can work, salt adds to the flavor of many processed foods. Cutting down salt levels, like reworking products to streamline ingredients and improve nutritional values, can be tricky for manufacturers who don't want to impact flavor or appearance.
Manufacturers are experimenting with items that can add savory umami flavors. Kevin McDermott, vice president and director of sales for Savoury Systems International, told Food Business News that a small amount of yeast extracts can provide an umami taste to take the place of salt. The market for yeast extracts — driven largely by the desire for healthy flavor alternatives — is expected to grow 7.5% in the U.S. over the next eight years, according to a report from Global Market Insights.