The company has set itself the target of removing 38,000 kg of salt from its products by 2020 – equivalent to six million teaspoons.
It has also pledged to double the number of unflavoured and sugar-free snack products it makes, and to use between 20 and 50% less sugar in its portfolio.
One of the ways it will be reducing the salt content is with its ingredient ValSa.
Developed in partnership with Fazer, ValSa is based on milk salts and can reduce the amount of salt used in cheeses and dairy-based spreads by up to half without affecting the taste. It launched in 2016 and shifted four million kilos in the first year,
Senior vice president of research and technology at Valio Anu Kaukovirta-Norja said: “The taste of milk salt comes from the minerals naturally contained in whey and will soon bring more, completely new products with Valio ValSa milk salt to the market.”
The company has been channelling R&D resources into making its products healthier since 2015, it said. In 2015 it had 84 reduced-sugar snack products and by 2017 had increased this to 136. Its aim is to have 168 by 2020.
It recently invested €170m in a 265,000m² snack manufacturing factory in Riihimäki, southern Finland. Kaukovirta-Norja said the site will also be dedicated to research and development.
“We are studying the potential for using new kinds of acidifiers for enhancing flavour as well as the utilisation of natural enzymes. We will also examine how we can even more effectively use the sugar contained in berries and fruit and how modern technologies can be used to create great taste”, she said.
With subsidiaries in Russia, Sweden, Denmark, the Baltics, USA and China, Valio is Finland’s biggest dairy business and has a range of consumer-facing products as well as B2B ingredients.
Its products account for almost one third (30%) of Finland’s total food exports.