Describing the effort as “industry-leading”, General Mills said sodium had been cut in more than 350 of its products, or around a third of its current US retail sales volume.
“We are very proud of the progress we have made. We set an aggressive goal and having achieved at least 18% sodium reduction across all of 10 categories is a significant accomplishment,” General Mills spokeswoman Bridget Christenson told Bakery and Snacks.
GM sodium reduction
Savory snacks: 35%
Frozen pizza: 29%
Canned veg: 28%
Baking mixes: 24%
Dinner mixes: 21%
Chilled dough: 21%
Side dishes: 20%
Ready to serve soup: 19%
Mexican dinners: 19%
Results based on sales weighted sodium values per category, calculated using labeled sodium values and weighted product ship volumes, comparing 2008 to 2015
“While three categories did not meet the aggressive 20% target, significant progress was still made - including a 19% sodium reduction for ready to serve soup, a 19% reduction in Mexican products and 18% reduction in cereal,” she added.
Product developers reduced sodium in some recipes by adding additional spices to ensure the flavor remains vibrant. For other products General Mills adjusted the placement of sodium – moving it to the food’s surface, for example. Sodium had been reduced in incremental steps to give people time to adapt their palates to the lower sodium levels.
“Ultimately, consumers will still consider taste as a key factor in making a food choice,” said Christenson. “We’ll continue to make product improvements over time to align with consumer preferences.”
General Mills – which produces brands including Cheerios, Fiber One, Häagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Yoplait, Betty Crocker and Old El Paso – has been looking to make nutritional improvements since 2005, when it first established its ‘Health Metric’ to track progress across its product portfolio. In 2010 it publicly stated its pledge to reduce sodium by 20% in 10 key product categories.
Correction: The headline on this article previously stated General Mills had reduced sodium in seven out of 10 categories. The company has reduced sodium in all 10 categories, but has met or exceeded its reduction target in seven of them.