SHIFT20 preview: Salt of the Earth targets plant-based meats with clean-label sodium reduction ingredients

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: Kroger
Picture: Kroger

Related tags Sodium reduction Umami Salt of the Earth

Mediterranean Umami – a clean-label sodium reduction ingredient combining sea salt, tomato concentrates, mushroom and seaweed extracts – is gaining traction in the plant-based meat space as firms come under increasing pressure to reduce sodium, says Israeli firm Salt of the Earth, which will be showcasing the ingredient at the virtual IFT show.

The product - which can be declared on US ingredient labels as ‘Seasoning (natural flavor, water, sea salt)’​ or ‘Tomato concentrate, mushroom and seaweed extract, sea salt​,’ is available in liquid form (for everything from sauces, dressings and baked goods to prepared meals, mayo, soup, and meat balls); and in powdered form (for snack applications), said business unit director David Hart.

We’re seeing a lot of interest in the new powdered product for things like popcorn, tortilla chips, potato chips and we’re already selling it to a major multinational brand that you’d recognize… but we’re also seeing growing interest in ​the liquid product in the plant-based meat sector in the US and other markets… One of Salt of the Earth's​ largest customers is a plant-based meat company out of South Africa.”

'Mediterranean Umami brings in those umami flavor compounds that are missing but also allows plant-based meat  brands to use less salt'

While taste and texture are top priorities for consumers of plant-based meats, formulators are facing pressure to improve the nutritional profile of some of these products, he said.

“Many of these products don’t have that umami flavor that meat has, and because they are often made with highly processed protein concentrates or texturized proteins that don’t always taste that good, companies have tended to pour lots of salt into them.

“Our Mediterranean Umami brings in those umami flavor compounds that are missing but also allows them to use less salt and lower the overall sodium content.”

Low sodium salt 

Salt of the Earth is also seeing growing interest in its low sodium salt, which combines sodium chloride and potassium chloride, but can be described on ingredient labels simply as ‘sea salt’ because both ingredients are sourced from the sea, he said: “The whole thing can be labeled ‘sea salt’, which is attractive in markets such as the US where some consumers don’t want to see the term ‘potassium chloride’ on the label.”

Interest in sodium reduction tends to come in waves, as manufacturers fixate on certain nutrients or macronutrients to reduce or avoid, he said. So right now, many companies are focused on reducing sugar, for example, he said.

However, certain events can galvanize brands, he said. “For example in Israel, we’ve got a new front of package stop sign system where you get a red sticker if you have more than a certain amount of saturated fat and salt for example. Mexico and India are both looking at similar regulations too.”

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