Consumers showing less concern about sodium intake

July 14, 2014

New research from The NPD Group finds that U.S. consumers are less concerned about their sodium intake than they were a few years ago. This data comes as the FDA prepared to issue voluntary sodium guidelines for restaurants and food manufacturers.

According to a news release, consumption of foods with a low-sodium or no-salt label is declining and will continue to decline. The decreasing concern is in spite of many U.S. consumers regularly eating above government-recommended daily sodium intake (2300 milligrams for the average person and 1500 milligrams for ages 50-plus), The NPD Group said.    

More than 60 percent of the population is still trying to cut down on or avoid sodium completely in their diets, but the percentage interested in doing this has declined from 68 percent in 2010 to 64 percent in 2013. Thirty-nine percent of adults looked for sodium content on the nutrition labels, down from 41 percent in 2010.

"People are paying less attention to the basics on nutrition labels like sodium, calories, fats, and carbs, and more attention to sugar and protein," Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst, said in the release. "Regardless of the available nutritional information and dietary guidelines, consumers are choosing to focus on what they deem important." 

The NPD’s report, "The Future of Eating: Who’s Eating What in 2018?" also shows:

  • In the next five years, use of foods with special label codes like low sodium/salt free, low/reduced, fat/no fat, or whole grain/made with whole grain is expected to decline across every generational group, except Gen Z, ages 0-23, who are still learning about foods and nutrition.
  • The percent of annual eatings of foods with a low-sodium or no-salt label is expected to decline by 1 percent in 2018 versus 2013.

"The challenges in getting Americans closer to the guidelines are multi-faceted. Salt is an important ingredient in making foods taste good. Simply removing sodium from foods and/or beverages will likely be met with consumer resistance," Seifer said. "If food manufacturers and foodservice operators are able to reduce the sodium in foods and still make them taste as good, inroads will be made in reducing U.S. consumers’ salt intake."

Topics: Health & Nutrition, Trends / Statistics

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