In a presentation detailing how the R&D process and teams are structured at Nestlé, Sean Westcott, head of product technology for frozen and chilled, said that sodium reduction remained a major challenge for the company and the wider industry.
While Nestlé has made significant reductions in sodium across its portfolio, industry progress in general has been more patchy, resulting in an "un-level playing field", he said, noting that in a product such as Mac & cheese, sodium levels per serving can vary dramatically, from 500mg to 2,500mg, depending on the manufacturer.
Asked by a member of the audience what he thought about genetically engineered crops, he said: "Our position on biotechnology is that it's vital."
While everyone is entitled to an opinion on this, he said, "the people that are most vocal about it are the people that have the wealth to choose a particular lifestyle.
"[But] how will we feed the world going forward without it? We feel that we have to embrace these technologies. It's a necessary part of the future."
He added: "However, we [as an industry] need to do a better job of communicating [the benefits of biotechnology]."