Salt reduction is a major target for the processed and packaged food industry, as too much salt intake is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure and stroke. But reducing salt content is no easy feat, since it impacts on the product’s taste and acceptability.
Under its TasteSolutions programme Givaudan is developing new flavour building blocks and ingredients, which are used by flavourists to help enhance the perception of salt in low-salt applications.
It is doing this by measuring taste and flavour performance, and has developed a ‘salt curve’ that shows how the intensity of the salty sensation changes over time.
First, the salt provides a “distinctive initial mineral bite”. This then fades to a sensation of “body or mouth-feel”. Finally, it has a “clean, lingering profile”.
Rather than trying to actually replace salt, Givaudan has been seeking to understand the effect of salt in the application, so it can build back the aspects that are missing when salt is reduced.
Andreas Haenni, global head of savoury at Givaudan, said: “Our approach is one of thinking what makes food taste great, rather than just thinking of salt in isolation.”
The company declined to give examples of specific ingredients in its range since they are proprietary, but said the actual flavours developed are dependent on what the customer requirements are.
“We have seen that a 'one solution fits all' approach does not provide the maximum performance for the customer.”
Haenni added that the best results are achieved by collaborating closely with the client to achieve the flavour profile they want for a specific application, improve the label with more natural, allergen-free, Kosher or Halal ingredients, or reduce the cost of reformulation.
Growth in health and wellness
In its financial results for 2008, released last week, Givaudan drew attention to its TasteSolutions programme, which is used for sweetness enhancement and bitterness masking, as well as salt reduction.
Givaudan said this resulted in double-digit sales growth in the strategic area of Health and Wellness applications.
Overall flavour division sales for the year were CHF 2,189m, (€1,480m) representing a growth of 5.8 per cent in local currencies and a decline of two per cent in Swiss francs.
EBITDA for flavours increased 6.4 per cent to CHF 417m (€282m) in 2008 from CHF 392m (€265m) in 2007. Operating income increased 10.8 per cent to CHF 226m (€152m) from CHF 204m (€138m).