Asda and Tesco are leading the way in the health debate by getting behind the government’s drive to cut the average person’s intake of salt to a target of 6g a day by 2010.
Both supermarkets have reaffirmed their commitment, with Tesco undertaking a total overhaul of all its food ranges to reduce salt, fat and calories, and Asda promising to cut salt from all its canned vegetables by July 2006. The initiatives coincide with Unilever reducing salt in its Bird Eye children’s ranges by 4%.
An Asda spokesman said that the process had already started and customers would now be able to buy tinned carrots, sweetcorn and garden peas
without any added salt. As a result, customers would consume 168 tonnes less salt a year, he added. It is part of its Food Pledge programme to reduce levels of salt, sugar and fat in its food and follows the reformulation of its Smartprice range in January, which reduced the amount of fat, sugar and salt consumed by customers by 180 tonnes, 130 tonnes and 189 tonnes respectively.
Tesco marketing director Tim Mason said the product reformulations would be an ongoing process. “We’re looking at all our products in terms of fat, salt and calorific content. We want to see whether they can still taste the same, or even better, but be more nutritional at the same time.”
Mason added that it had not been decided whether there would be any advertising around the reformulations. However, Nick Gladding, senior analyst for Verdict Research, said it would be unlikely that Tesco would not seize the opportunity to shout about its products becoming more healthy. “Tesco likes to be seen to be on the side of the consumer and this sort of initiative is good for the consumer and for Tesco’s PR.”
The Food Standards Agency is consulting with food retailers and manufacturers on how they can meet voluntary salt targets. Along with the Department of Health, the FSA plans to set an interim target for salt reduction by 2007 and a final target of 6g in 2010. The government says 65 organisations have committed to reducing salt levels, with detailed plans from 44.
Defra is also working with industry to facilitate reduction of salt, sugar and fat levels through scientific studies.
>>p66 An Eye on salt reduction
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