Premier Foods on morning goods: ‘Reducing salt levels can be very challenging’

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Premier Foods has reduced salt and fat content across its Hovis bread brands, but says it was challenging
Premier Foods has reduced salt and fat content across its Hovis bread brands, but says it was challenging

Related tags: Salt levels, Bread

UK-based Premier Foods is committed to slashing salt in its breads, cakes and morning goods despite the technical challenges, it says.

A case study published in the Food and Drink Federation’s (FDF) Responsibility Deal LINK update tracked the healthy reformulation efforts of one of its members Hovis-maker Premier Foods, particularly across its baked goods portfolio.

Since 2011, the firm has cut 178 tons of salt from its bread,  41 tons from morning goods and 11 tons from its cake mixes.

“Reducing salt levels can be very challenging, both technically and in terms of consumer acceptance. For instance, finding technical alternatives to sodium based raising agents in cake, sponge puddings and morning goods as well as in poppadums and crackers where sodium is used in the expansion process is difficult but not impossible,”​ Premier Foods said in the case study.

“…Making changes to well-known flavor profiles will always be challenging. We work closely with our ingredients suppliers to make changes without compromising on quality while maintaining consumer acceptance,”​ it said.

Recent research from World Action on Salt & Health (WASH) found that over the last ten years, salt levels in packaged bread in the UK have come down by an average of 20%, but said it was supermarket own brand leading the way with big brand "lagging behind".

Slashing salt needs better knowledge

A review published last year in the Journal of Food Science and Technology​ suggested that while there are some “less favorable sodium-free salt alternatives on the market”,better knowledge is needed​ to develop new substitutes.

Several companies have developed options for manufacturers, such as potassium chloride-based ingredients, restructured salt crystals and even ingredients that enhance umami flavors - there are dozens of products on the market.

Premier Foods said it continued to identify opportunities for low salt options in products.

Reformulation beyond salt – slashing the fat

Alongside its work on salt reduction, Premier Foods has reformulated its flagship bread brand Hovis to contain lower fat and saturated fat levels.

The fat and saturated fat content of its Hovis soft white loaf and wholemeal variety has been reduced by 8kcal per 100g serving. The breads used to contain 239kcal per 100g and now contain 231kcal per serving – the equivalent of around 6kcal less per two slices.

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