Consumers believe high sodium intake is everyone else's problem but their own, according to a new global SALTS (Sodium Alternatives and Long-Term Solution) Survey released by the Ajinomoto Group, a company dedicated to solving global nutrition issues by continuing to communicate their unique efforts to reduce salt intake.
The SALTS Survey was conducted across seven global markets in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific to understand consumers' attitudes towards sodium and identify opportunities to develop partnerships and tools to reduce sodium consumption overall.
The survey found the large majority of consumers recognise various health benefits associated with reducing their sodium intake – from health maintenance to illness prevention to increased longevity. Despite this recognition, they do not see sodium intake as a concern that impacts them personally, underscoring the need for manufacturers and retailers to proactively address this public health issue.
Sixty-four percent of consumers know that eating too much sodium is bad for their health, yet only thirty-seven percent pay attention to how much sodium they consume.
Consumers indicate that they would prefer their grocery store not sell high-sodium foods. In theory, this makes sense – if something is not available, behaviour change is inevitable. However, in reality, consumers would not be happy if high-sodium foods were removed from store shelves. The survey indicated that the majority of consumers prioritise taste above all else when deciding what to eat and currently believe low-sodium foods are bland and tasteless.
"Successfully driving sodium reduction will require cooperation across food and beverage companies, national governments, and health professionals, with the ultimate goal to encourage diets that are nutritious, taste great and meet sodium targets," said Tia Rains, PhD, VP Customer Engagement & Strategic Development at Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition North America, Inc.
There are solutions. The Ajinomoto Group is making lower-sodium foods that taste good and can be a model for other global food companies. "There is an opportunity here," says Rains, "If companies make nutritious food taste delicious at a good price point, consumers will buy them, and then companies will make more of these healthier options leading to improved diets and ultimately, a benefit towards public health."
Additional highlights from Ajinomoto SALTS Survey include*:
Globally, 55% of consumers agree that low-sodium food is tasteless.
83% of consumers prioritise taste over all else when deciding what to eat
68% of consumers wish healthier food options were more affordable.
Today, less than half consider the amount of sodium in the food when deciding what to eat.
Consumers prioritise other foods and nutrients such as vegetables, protein and fruit before sodium. Sodium ranked six out of ten globally in consumers' food and nutrition priorities.
In the US, the top three factors for considering what to eat are the amount of sugar, vegetables and protein
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