US manufacturers have been under increasing pressure to reduce sodium in their products, as Americans consume far more than is recommended by dietary guidelines. It is estimated that 70 to 80 percent of sodium in the American diet comes from processed foods, but reducing it brings technical challenges in terms of physical characteristics of a product and food safety, as well as implications for taste and consumer acceptance.
National industrial sales and marketing manager at Kikkoman, Joseph Leslie, told FoodNavigator-USA that soy sauce is widely used in Asian-style chilled and frozen entrees. He said that these are particularly popular with manufacturers of foods intended for diet programs because they can easily be bulked up with vegetables and typically contain less animal protein – with the additional advantage of lower cost for the manufacturer. However, they are often high in sodium.
“For anybody making anything Asian, the salt in those products is coming from the sauce,” he said.
Kikkoman’s new product is called PTN (premium total nitrogen) soy sauce, which contains 45 percent less sodium than its regular soy sauce, but is also its most strongly flavored version, allowing manufacturers to use less of it in formulations.
“Soy sauce needs a certain amount of salt for the microorganisms to thrive,” Leslie explained. “So you have to make soy sauce and suck the salt out of it.”
The company said that it uses a proprietary process to reduce sodium during manufacturing, resulting in a soy sauce that is 15 percent stronger with a higher amino acid content, which increases its flavor enhancement properties.
“This one is designed specifically for food manufacturers where the taste is the number one need rather than shelf life, like the consumer brand,” Leslie said. “Food manufacturers don’t have the same requirements for the amount of time you need to hold it for.”
The PTN soy sauce can be stored for up to a year but should be used within a month of opening.