product taste and reformulation expenses as the main reasons for the lack of product reformulation.
Research has found that many consumers cite taste above other concerns, such as price and healthfulness, when making food choices (IFIC, 2008). Therefore, according to food industry representatives at the public information-gathering workshop held by the committee (March 30, 2009), manufacturers want to ensure that their products taste better than those of their competitors and that reformulated products maintain their likability so that market share is not lost to competitors who have not made similar changes.
Food industry representatives at the public workshop also said manufacturers fear that sodium reductions that create changes in product taste will result in a loss of market share to competitors’ more flavorful products. In addition, manufacturers have experienced product failures in past efforts to market foods with claims of lowered sodium content. These products may have failed for a number of reasons, including the unwillingness of consumers to make the trade-off between the taste of these reformulated products and health, given the lack of immediate health results from consuming these foods (Wolf, 2009).
Cost of reformulation is another obstacle. While reformulation is a common event, it is usually done to reduce the cost of producing foods, and the savings derived from production cost reductions pay for the costs of research and development to make the reformulation possible (Kramer, 2002). Salt is a relatively inexpensive ingredient, so there may be few profits derived from reformulation. Further, if simple salt removal is insufficient, salt substitutes and other alternative ingredients may be needed, resulting in high reformulation costs, since these ingredients are usually more expensive than salt.16 The same may be true for other sodium-containing compounds and reduction technologies (Ball et al., 2002; Cauvain, 2003). These factors create little financial incentive for manufacturers to take on the time-consuming and costly process of reformulation unless there are other market-driven reasons, such as demand from consumers or other market or social forces. New product development with lower sodium at baseline, however, may be less costly than reformulating existing products with established consumer taste expectations.
The processed food and retailing industries have taken steps toward encouraging reductions in sodium intake. Other than complying with label-
Available online: http://www.culinologyonline.com/articles/healthy-r-d-perspectives.html (accessed October 15, 2009).