Sodium Reduction in US and Canada

See how sodium reduction trends are developing in the US and Canadian food and beverage industries

July 11, 2024 – Food and beverage products with claims regarding lower salt or lower sodium often have salt substitutes and flavor enhancers to replace salt. Sometimes herbs and spices are used in food and beverage products with a salt claim or a sodium claim. Lower salt or lower sodium products may have other health claims.

The Meaning of Salt and Sodium Claims

In the US, sodium claims include low sodium, no sodium, and reduced sodium. These claims describe food and beverage products that the manufacturer labels as having less sodium. The claim reduced sodium in the US means at least 25% less sodium. US product launches labeled low sodium are required by law to have 140mg sodium per serving or less. US food and beverage products can be labeled no sodium or the label can say no added salt.

Salt Substitutes Help Lower Sodium

Salt substitutes are safe to use in food and beverage products in the US. Salt substitutes include single ingredients or combinations of ingredients that replace some or all of the added salt in a food or beverage. This reduces the sodium in the food or beverage and also substitutes some of the functions of salt.  The most common salt substitutes are potassium chloride and calcium chloride. Other salt substitutes can include Epsom salt, magnesium chloride, magnesium sulfate, and potassium sulfate.

Reducing Sodium with Flavor Enhancers

Manufacturers may enhance the flavor of sodium-reduced products by using flavor enhancers. These flavor enhancers can boost cheese flavor, savory flavor, sour flavor, or sweetness flavor. Herbs and spices also enhance flavor.

Sodium and Health

Sodium is part of table salt, chemically called sodium chloride. The flavor enhancers monosodium glutamate (MSG) and disodium inosinate also contain sodium. The problem with eating a diet with a lot of sodium is that it increases the chances of high blood pressure. High blood pressure raises the risk of heart disease, resulting in health organizations and governments around the world advising consumers to reduce the amount of sodium in their diet.

Sodium Reduction in US

Reducing Sodium in Foods

A high proportion of dietary sodium comes from packaged and prepared foods. Manufacturers can gradually lower the sodium in their products and consumers will adjust. Many manufacturers reduce sodium over a period of years and do not include a sodium claim to avoid turning off consumers. That is why more sodium reduction is going on beyond the use of claims.

Health Benefits of Less Sodium

Using less salt and more salt substitutes where appropriate can benefit health. Governments and health organizations are putting pressure on manufacturers to use less salt and sodium. A recent report by the World Health Organization includes a sodium country score card that evaluates how well each country is implementing policies to reduce sodium. The highest score is 4. The United States was scored a 3, meaning that it has at least one mandatory sodium policy and a definition for a sodium declaration on packaged food.

Consumer Attitudes About Sodium

Consumers say that it’s important for healthy foods and beverages to be low in salt, as well as sugar and fat. Sodium reduction trends research show that US consumers want to limit their salt/sodium and they are actively limiting salt along with sugar and fat. Salt is the second most limited food and beverage component, with sugar being the first.

According to consumer trends research, US consumers are looking for food and beverages that are low in the unhealthy components of salt, sugar, and fat. These ingredients become more important as consumers get older. Consumer trends show that consumers also are trying to avoid convenience food and beverages that contain salt, sugar, and fat.

US consumers determine whether a product is healthy or not by looking at package features such as the ingredient list and nutrition label. Freshness also is an important US consumer trend.

Looking for Less Sodium in Indulgences

A sizeable proportion of US consumers say that indulgent foods could be healthier with more natural ingredients and fewer negative components such as salt or artificial ingredients. Many US consumers say that they would accept indulgent food and beverage products with less salt and sodium to improve their health.

Savory Food Categories Have Sodium Claims

Sodium reduction claims are well-established on US product launches of classic categories such as ready meals, meat/fish/eggs, and soup. Subcategories of these foods are among the fastest growing. Launches of sauces and seasonings with a sodium reduction claim are down a bit and this could be temporary.

When monitoring launches of US food and beverage products with a sodium claim, watch for growth in confectionery. This responds to US consumers wanting a combination of health and indulgence.

Slowdown in Sodium Claims May Be Temporary

In the US food and beverage market, new product launches with a sodium claim have dropped a bit. This might be temporary while manufacturers wait for new regulations and new ingredients. Launches of food and beverage products in the US often feature a sodium reduction claim plus other types of health claims. US manufacturers are including multiple nutrition benefits into food and beverage products.

Salt Substitutes and Flavor Enhancers Grow

In the US food and beverage market, salt substitutes and flavor enhancers in combination with sodium claims show overall growth. Potassium chloride and calcium chloride are the most prevalent salt substitutes. Sometimes potassium chloride is combined with sodium chloride. Herbs and spices for global flavors also are growing.

What’s Next in US Sodium Reduction?

Forces to watch for in the sodium reduction market include sodium reduction advisories and labeling laws, pressure from older consumers, new technologies for lowering sodium while preserving taste, global flavors, and lower-sodium plant-based food and beverage launches.


This article is based on our report, “Now & Next in Sodium Reduction in US & Canada​.” If you are interested in reading this report, feel free to request a demo.
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