The partnership will help Nestlé identify ingredients that consumers find as pleasing as salt, but the focus is not necessarily on imitating saltiness, research and development manager for Nestlé’s food strategic business unit Sean Westcott said.
“Recently there’s been a number of advances about how salt taste works,” he said. “…There is a better understanding of the taste receptor of salt and how it works from a physiological perspective.”
Working with this idea of how we perceive salt, Chromocell researchers use a proprietary technology to screen for compounds that cause salt taste receptors to respond, and are able to select cells that function in a similar way, he said. After these compounds have been identified, researchers can then take their findings on for sensory testing, to work out which work best from a consumer acceptance perspective.
“Our ambition is to provide foods that are as healthy as home cooked meals. We want to be able to provide that across our product range…It is not so much about providing specific reduced salt lines,” said Westcott.
Nestlé said that it is investing US$15m (about €11.6m) in the research project, which is expected to last at least three years.
The company said it has removed more than 12,000 tonnes of salt from its foods around the world over the past ten years. It has introduced low-salt ranges such as its Equilive brand soups, seasonings and bouillons in Chile, a special range of Herta Knacki sausages and Le Bon Paris cooked ham in France, a Maggi Benebien bouillon range in the Dominican Republic and Maggi bouillon cubes in the Netherlands.
Chromocell CEO Christian Kopfli said in a statement: “We aim to improve consumer products using breakthrough science and our leading Chromovert technology.
“We share Nestlé’s commitment to nutrition, health and wellness through our unique work in the development of the highest-quality ingredients.”