Selako salt replacer targets health-conscious consumers

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Salt Sodium chloride

Salt reduction in finished products can be achieved without
affecting shelf life or the manufacturing process, according to a
Finnish firm.

Selako claims that its Flavomare product can therefore help manufacturers tap into growing concern over health and nutrition considerations.

"Salt reduction of between 25 and 50 per cent is in most cases possible without sacrificing any "good" salty taste,"​ according to company spokesperson Lasse Kurppa.

From a marketing point of view, this allows firms to advertise their products as being tasty in addition to being "salt reduced"​.

This is an increasingly important consideration. Europeans eat too much salt. The UK government for example estimates that processed foods, from soups and sauces to breakfast cereals and snacks, contribute about 75 per cent to people's salt intakes.

But the problem for food makers has been developing salt substitutes that actually taste good.

So far, the most effective means of reducing sodium by more than 25 per cent is to replace sodium chloride with potassium chloride, or KCl. But while KCl helps to maintain salty taste, it also contributes off-notes that many consumers find unpleasant.

Selako however claims that its ability to successfully blend KCl salt into the Flavomare mix guarantees that a salty taste remains, and that there are no self-life problems in ready Flavomare-based food products.

The company says that as a result, Flavomare has a number of advantages over other salt replacers that are usually based only on KCl salts, including reduced oxidation in food during preparation and storing.

Selako even claims that its Flavomare product has a number of healthy benefits. Kurppa points to a recent acrylamide study from the University of Helsinki, which suggested that the forming of acrylamide was reduced by 50 per cent in potato chips through using the Flavomare spice blend.

Acrylamide hit the headlines in 2002 when scientists at the Swedish Food Administration first reported unexpectedly high levels of the potential carcinogen in carbohydrate-rich foods cooked at high temperatures.

Flavomare is already on the market in Finland, and Kurppa claims there is no need for a novelty food licence for EU countries. In addition, licences are available for the USA.

Flavomare is already patent protected in some countries.Patents are ready in Norway, Australia and USA, while in Japan the application is pending.

There has been a noticeable shift away from salt in recent years. According to market analyst Mintel, the salt sector in the UK has seen sales fall 13 per cent from £23 million in 2000 to about £20 million this year.

Table and cooking salt have been the main casualties, losing 15 per cent and 17 per cent of volume sales respectively between 2003 and 2005. In contrast, sea/rock salt and low sodium alternatives have increased, but between them they account for just 20 per cent of the total salt market, not enough to stem the decline.

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