Americans are getting wiser to the negative effects of excess sodium. Here are the trends driving a new wave of dietary choices.
Low sodium – it’s on the mind of a growing number of American consumers hunting for healthier snacks. It’s never been an easy quest, especially not here in the U.S. where salt is ubiquitous. The average person consumes 3400 mg of salt per day – way over the recommended maximum of 2300 mg. The result? Increased rates of hypertension (the world’s biggest killer), cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney issues, and cancer.
Americans truly want and need to make a change. The taste sensation of salt has such a hold on consumers, even in the face of these consequences, that they’re looking in droves for healthier snack foods that won’t make them give up that flavor. This guide will look at the low sodium snacks Americans are turning to while unpacking how the different options live up to customer expectations and evolving manufacturing processes.
Consumer factors are driving low-sodium snack trends
This eye-opening infographic from the American Heart Association (AHA) neatly summarizes where Americans currently are on the road toward a low sodium lifestyle and the factors that brought them there.
Three-quarters want less sodium in their food, more than half want more control over the sodium in their diet and have actively tried to make a change, and almost 100% can’t accurately state how much sodium they consume. A further 56% are behind a drive to limit sodium specifically in manufactured foods.
Old consumer habits, food manufacturing methods, and new obstacles aren’t making things any easier. The pandemic hit hard in many ways, not least of which was the poor, high-sodium snack choices the public made for their stay-at-home diets. Some commentators are confident this negative trend will decrease post-pandemic.
It’s also heartening to note that the low-sodium snack market is keeping pace with impressive growth and set to be worth $3.5 billion by 2027. Many low-sodium snack options already exist to fuel that expansion and many more are coming to meet the ever-growing demand. Future competition will be fierce. Let’s look at some of today’s most popular choices.
The leading salty snack categories
Potato chips are a perennial favorite in the salty snack market as are chips made from blue corn, bananas (a particularly low sodium option), wheat, and other vegetables like beetroot or lentils. Rice cakes are another popular choice along with crackers due to their low calories. Popcorn is an American staple that continues to be a snack favorite along with trail mix, and each is available in lightly salted flavors.
Soups and cereals can also be found in the trendy Top Twenty. Many consumers accept that some degree of salt in all those foods is unavoidable. This opens the public up to dietary health risks because some snacks aren’t as heath-friendly as they first appear.
For example, America is also a nation of meat lovers who increasingly struggle with the health implications of that preference. This has seen the rise of alternative choices like plant-based “meat,” the sales of which jumped 40% between 2017 and 2019. These may have the edge on traditional cuts when it comes to fats, but they fail when it comes to sodium content.
When a healthy trend really isn’t
A 20g serving of Beyond Meat contains 68% of an adult’s daily recommended sodium, leading some dieticians in a Women’s Health article to link them to high blood pressure problems. The same article cites stats on the Impossible Burger, which has an even higher dose of sodium.
An important article studying Australian snack trends revealed that “lightly salted” kale snacks were, in reality, the saltiest ones on the market with legume-based lentil chips – another seemingly healthy option at first glance – coming in second.
American food manufacturers trying to sneak excessive sodium into their snacks will find it harder and harder to compete since the FDA’s Guidelines for Industry were published in 2021. Flavored snack chips, puffed snacks, and snack mixes were just some of the food items on the FDA’s target list. The USDA’s final rule on sodium levels in schools will also drive low-sodium snack trends, making it imperative for food manufacturers to reassess their products.
How MicroSalt® can make any food trendier
All these trendy options rely on sodium as the flavor hook to keep consumers coming back. The amount of sodium used is what will ultimately keep food manufacturers on-trend, in line with public preference, and on the right side of changing industry requirements. Those manufacturers who continue to overdo the salt will eventually face regulatory consequences and a loss of faith at retail.
MicroSalt® is an all-natural, patented particle that’s 100-times smaller than other forms of table salt, delivering the same salty flavor with only half the sodium. The tiny particles increase the surface area of the tongue that’s affected by sodium flavor and are perfectly made for the kind of dry topical applications on the trendiest snacks, including chips, crackers, popcorn, nuts, and many more.
MicroSalt® has a fast-dissolving matrix that won’t leave any bitter aftertaste behind and doesn’t incorporate any substitutes. Using MicroSalt® to get in on low-sodium snacks trends doesn’t require food manufacturers to adjust their current production process or machinery, so very little internal change is necessary to put your company at the forefront of what governing bodies and customers are looking for.
The trend toward better health is bound to continue with snacks of all kinds playing a major role in people’s diets at home and on the go. The swing to low-sodium snacks is in full force, and manufacturers must act now to share in that momentum.
Contact MicroSalt® today with any questions
We’re dedicated to helping food manufacturers and consumers enjoy a new food industry where good health and great taste coexist. We’d love to tell you more about how MicroSalt® can help manufacturers reimagine their products without compromising on the flavor buyers expect. Simply contact us via our message page call 1-877-825-0655 for more information.