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Market Trend: Low, Reduced and No Sodium or Salt Foods and Beverages in the U.S.


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

Sodium and salt levels in foods and beverages are on the mind of every person involved in the U.S. food and beverage industry. Why? Various health and consumer groups are making a lot of noise on Capitol Hill. They are blaming the high level of “added” sodium in packaged retail products and foodservice menu items for record high-blood pressures of Americans. They argue that high-blood pressure is a precursor to heart disease, and ultimately death.

Other countries, most notably the United Kingdom, have implemented serious regulations regarding sodium and salt contents of foods and beverages in efforts to pursue improvement in health and wellness. All fingers point to the United States.

The FDA is already getting involved, which raises concerns for food and beverage manufacturers. Efforts are underway to reformulate current key product lines—reducing and replacing sodium with other flavor-enhancing and functional ingredients. New products are starting out with lower levels of sodium.

Report Methodology
The information in this report was obtained from both primary and secondary research. Primary research entailed in-depth, on-site examinations of supermarkets, drug stores, mass merchandisers, convenience stores (c-stores), health/natural foods stores, specialty stores, and club stores. Company, distributor, and retailer interviews were conducted to obtain information on new product and packaging trends, marketing programs, distribution methods, and technological breakthroughs. Secondary research entailed data gathering from relevant sources. Included were consumer and industry publications, newspapers, government reports, financial reports, company literature, and corporate annual reports.

What You’ll Get in this Report
Market Trend: Low, Reduced and No Sodium or Salt Foods and Beverages in the U.S. examines the U.S. retail market for foods and beverages flagging sodium content. It covers any product that has a label where either a sodium content claim (e.g., “low in sodium,” “reduced sodium,” etc.) is made, or actual sodium content is flagged on a secondary spot on the label (e.g., 550 milligrams of sodium per serving), in addition to the required listing on the Nutrition Facts. It also includes products with statements such as “no-salt-added,” “salt-free” and “lightly salted.”

Packaged Facts determined there are seven product categories that will experience the greatest increase in sodium and salt content claims. These are:

  • Beverages
  • Condiments
  • Dairy
  • Grains/snacks
  • Meat/fish/entrées
  • Soups
  • Canned vegetables

Packaged Facts projects that sales for all sodium content foods and beverages will continue to grow, but their percent share of the business will change as more players enter the marketplace. The forerunners—canned vegetables and soups—will continue to have healthy growth but they will lose share to the other categories, most notably grains/snacks and meat/fish/entrées.


  • Executive Summary
    • Definition of the Market
      • Scope of the Report
      • Products Outside of Scope
    • The Ingredient and the Issues
      • Sodium's Role
      • Americans Consume Too Much Sodium
      • The Salt Shaker Is Not the Culprit
      • The Government May Regulate the Salt Content in Food
      • There's Two Sides to Every Story
    • The Market
      • Tracking Low Sodium Is Challenging
      • Product Categories Driving Growth
    • The Marketers
      • Many Are Looking at Sodium Content Formulations
    • The Marketplace
      • Supermarkets Lead in Share of Sodium Content Product Sales
        • Table U.S. Retail Sales of Sodium Content Foods and Beverages, by Outlet, 2008
    • The Consumer
      • Health and Wellness Revolution
      • "Less Sodium" Gets Classified with the Functional Food Trend
      • Demographics of Those Watching Sodium Intake
    • Product Development
      • Nothing Truly Replaces Sodium
      • Options in the Market
  • The Ingredient
    • Key Points
    • Scope of the Report
      • Definition of the Market
      • Products Outside of Scope
    • All About Sodium
      • What Is Sodium?
      • Sodium's Role in Life
      • Sodium's Presence in Foods and Beverages
      • Sodium's Role in Foods and Beverages
      • Concerns With Too Much Sodium in the Diet
      • What Are the Recommendations for Sodium Intake?
        • Table Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium
      • Most Sodium Comes from Processed Foods and Restaurants
    • The Government's Role
      • FDA Holds Hearing on Regulating Salt Content in Food
      • AMA Requested a Call to Action, Too
      • Comments Made at the FDA Hearing
      • AMA Urges FDA Action to Reduce Excess Salt in Food
      • Action Overseas Suggests There Is Hope for U.S. Foods and Beverages
      • Status of Change in the United States
    • The Controversy
      • The Other Side of the Sodium Debate
      • The Salt Institute Speaks Out
    • Labeling Overview
      • Labeling Nomenclature
      • Provide the Facts: Nutritional Information Musts
        • Table Legal Descriptors for the Sodium Content of Foods and Beverages
      • What Is the Definition of "Healthy" When Used on a Food Label?
      • Health, Nutrient Content and Structure/Function Claims
      • Allergen Issues
      • AHA's Heart-Check Mark
        • Table American Heart Association Heart-Check Mark Usage Criteria
      • FDA Urged to Create New Healthy Food Labeling System
    • The Food Industry Gets Challenged
      • Where to Go From Here
      • The Healthy People Challenge
  • The Market
    • Key Points
    • Market Approach
      • Many Different Approaches to Addressing Sodium Levels
      • Analysis of Sodium Content Soup
        • Table U.S. Sales Data for Select Brands of Sodium Content Soup, 2003-2007 (in millions of dollars)
        • Table U.S. Sales Data for Sodium Content Soup, Market Leader Campbell Soup vs. Total Category, 2003-2007 (in millions of dollars)
      • Sodium Content Soup Is About 10% of Campbell's Mix
        • Table U.S. Sales of Campbell's Soup, Sodium Content vs. All Others, 2007
      • Healthy Choice Is the Sole Sodium Content Frozen Entrée Choice
        • Table U.S. Sales Data for Healthy Choice-Branded Frozen Entrées, 2003-2007 (in millions of dollars)
    • Retail Sales Trends
      • Impossible to Provide a Dollar Value to Sodium Content Category
      • Sodium Content Claims Double from 2002 to 2007
      • A Note on Product Tags
        • Table U.S. Product Introductions with Low-Salt and Low-Sodium Content Claims, 2002-2007
      • The Dip in 2006 Is About Trans Fats
      • Language Confusion with Productscan
    • Marketable Products
      • Seven Product Categories to Focus On for Sodium Content Claims
      • Canned Foods Lead the Sodium Content Business
        • Table U.S. Retail Sales of Sodium Content Foods and Beverages, Share of Total Market, 2007
      • No-Salt-Added Canned Vegetables Are the Original Player
      • By 2012, Grains/Snacks and Meat/Fish/Entrées Gain Share
        • Table U.S. Retail Sales of Sodium Content Foods and Beverages, Share of Total Market, 2012
      • Regional Preferences for Sodium Content Foods and Beverages
        • Table U.S. Adult Consumers Watching Sodium Intake and Purchasing Low-Sodium Foods, by Region, 2007 (index)
  • The Marketers
    • Key Points
    • The Leading Marketers
      • Many Are Looking at Sodium Content Formulations
      • The 10 Leading Marketers
        • Table U.S. Sodium Content Foods and Beverages: 10 Leading Marketers and Brands, 2007
      • ConAgra and Campbell Lead in Share of Sales
        • Table U.S. Sodium Content Foods and Beverages: Share of Dollar Sales, by Marketer, 2007
    • Competitive Profile: Amy's Kitchen, Inc., Petaluma, California
      • The Company's Namesake
      • A Leader in Penetrating Mainstream Markets
      • Product Lines
    • Competitive Profile: Campbell Soup Co., Camden, New Jersey
      • More Than 100 Years Old
      • Campbell Is the Leader in Sodium Content Movement
      • Riding the Wellness Trend
      • Soup Fits Into Wellness by Filling Consumers Up
      • When the Sodium Reduction Plans Commenced
      • Thanks to Sea Salt
      • V8 100% Vegetable Juice Reformulation
      • The Line Up Continues to Grow
      • Supporting the Products
      • How the Lower-Sodium Soups Score with Consumers
    • Competitive Profile: ConAgra Foods, Inc., Omaha, Nebraska
      • An All-American Company
      • Sodium-Cutting Initiative Announced
    • Competitive Profile: Del Monte Foods, Co., San Francisco, California
      • Vegetable Rush
      • Something for Everyone
      • Forerunners in No-Salt-Added Veggies
    • Competitive Profile: General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota
      • It All Started with Milling
      • Responsible Advertising
      • Variety of Sodium Contents Statements on Veggies
      • Progresso Soup Introduces Reduced Sodium Soups
    • Competitive Profile: H.J. Heinz Co., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
      • If It Isn't Heinz, It Isn't Ketchup
    • Competitive Profile: The Hain Celestial Group, Inc., Melville, New York
      • Health Food Giant Continues to Grow
      • Health Valley Offers Many Sodium Content Products
      • Other New Sodium Content Products
    • Competitive Profile: Hormel Foods Corp., Austin, Minnesota
      • Meat and Potatoes
      • Sodium Content Offerings
      • Practically an Institution
    • Competitive Profile: Kraft Foods Inc., Northfield, Illinois
      • The Biggie in the States
      • Nabisco First to Lower Sodium
      • The Sensible Solution Logo
      • Living in South Beach in 2008
    • Competitive Profile: Unilever, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
      • International Company with Local Roots
      • Nutrition Enhancement Program: It's a Choice in the States
      • In the States, the company calls it program: Choices.
  • The Marketplace
    • Key Points
    • Distribution and Delivery
      • Retail Distribution Methods
      • Direct Delivery Advantages
      • The Cost of Face-To-Face Business
      • Advantages of Warehouse Delivery
      • Smaller Marketers Work Through Brokers
      • Introducing New Special Dietary Needs Products to the Market
    • The Retail Environment
      • Store Formats Are Changing
      • Shopping Options Are Plentiful
      • Where Are Consumers Shopping for Groceries?
      • Traditional Supermarkets Decline as a Primary Destination
      • Traditional Supermarkets Are the Leader in Share of Sodium Content Food and Beverage Sales
        • Table U.S. Retail Sales of Sodium Content Foods and Beverages, by Outlet, 2008
    • The Leading Retailers
      • Getting Your Product in with the Leaders
        • Table Top Five U.S. Supermarket Chains, by Dollar Sales and Number of Stores, 2006 or fiscal 2007, depending on chain
        • Table Top Five U.S. Discount-Style Chains That Sell Food & Beverage Products, by Dollar Sales and Number of Stores, 2006 or fiscal 2007, depending on chain
      • Changes in the Competitive Landscape
      • The Wal-Mart Factor
      • The Whole Foods Approach
        • Table Low-Sodium Foods Sold in Whole Foods Market, by category, brand and description, 2008
      • Trader Joe's Goes Low-Sodium, Too
        • Table Low-Sodium Foods Sold in Trader Joe's, by category, brand* and description, 2008 (*unless noted, product is the store label of Trader Joe's)
    • Comparative Pricing
      • There's a Plethora of Products Out There
        • Table U.S. Sodium Content Retail Sales Prices of Beverages at Select Stores, 2008
        • Table U.S. Sodium Content Retail Sales Prices of Condiments at Select Stores, 2008
        • Table U.S. Sodium Content Retail Sales Prices of Dairy Products at Select Stores, 2008
        • Table U.S. Sodium Content Retail Sales Prices of Grain-Based and Snack Foods at Select Stores, 2008
        • Table U.S. Sodium Content Retail Sales Prices of Meat, Fish and Entrée Products at Select Stores, 2008
        • Table U.S. Sodium Content Retail Sales Prices of Soups at Select Stores, 2008
        • Table U.S. Sodium Content Retail Sales Prices of Canned Vegetables at Select Stores, 2008
      • Private Label Offers Price Breaks
        • Table Private Label vs. Branded Retail Price of 8-Ounce No-Salt-Added Tomato Sauce, 2008
      • Trader Joe's Is Almost All Private Label
        • Table Private Label vs. Branded Retail Price of 32.0-Ounce Chicken Broth, Trader Joe's vs. National Brands, 2008
      • The Club Store Price Advantage
      • Multi-Packs and Family-Size Products
        • Table Club Store vs. Supermarket Prices for Select Sodium Content Products, 2008
  • The Consumer
    • Key Points
    • Today's Consumer
      • Health and Wellness Revolution
      • Choosing Sodium-Containing Foods Wisely
      • "Less Sodium" Gets Classified with the Functional Food Trend
      • General Attitudes Toward Health
      • Consumer Health Concerns
      • What Consumers Say and What Consumers Want
      • So Who Wants to Lower Their Sodium Intake?
      • Retailers Ask for Low-Sodium Foods; Consumers Buy Them
    • Simmons Consumer Survey
      • Demographics of Those Watching Sodium Intake
        • Table Demographics of Those Who Watch Their Salt Intake or Buy Low-Sodium Foods, 2007
        • Table Indicator and Resistor Indices of Those Who Watch Their Salt Intake or Buy Low Sodium Foods, 2007
      • When It's Available They Will Use It
        • Table Percentage of U.S. Consumers on a Diet and Watching Their Salt Intake That Use Select Foods, by Product Type, 2007
  • Product Development
    • Key Points
    • Understanding Salt
      • Kicking Off the New Year
      • To Enhance, One Must First Understand the Flavor of Salt
      • Salt's Uniqueness
      • No Worries, Reducing Salt Does Not Impact Food Safety
    • The Food Science Approach
      • Are There Four or Five Tastes?
      • The Deal with Umami
      • Efforts by Suppliers and Research Organizations
    • Overview Of Product Development Efforts
      • Campbell Soup's Can of Tricks
      • What's Popping at ConAgra
      • What's Shaking at McCain Foods
      • Nestlé Sheds Salt in Shreddies
      • Kellogg's Approach in Snack Foods
      • New Product Introductions
        • Table U.S. Lower Sodium Food and Beverage Introductions, 2006-2007
  • Select Marketers
  • Select Suppliers of Sodium Reduction Ingredients

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