You eat less fat, caffeine, cheese - is salt next?

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - You never consume trans fats, have reduced caffeine, and rarely eat cheese. What’s next to banish from the menu? Salt, if consumer trend tracker Mintel is right.

A worker harvests sea salt in the Secovlje Soline salt plant July 30, 2009. REUTERS/Tina Kosec

Mintel has released its predictions for consumer packaged goods in 2010, saying next year’s new products will tend to recreate the familiar, sticking to the current trends of health, wellness, convenience and sustainability.

But Mintel predicted several core trends will impact new product development, with sodium reduction poised to be the next big health push after slowly getting a higher profile on supermarket shelves.

Between 2005 and 2008, the number of food production introductions containing a low, no, or reduced sodium claim rose 115 percent, according to Mintel, as studies linked sodium to hypertension, osteoporosis, kidney damage and stomach cancer.

Recent research found 52 percent of Americans are monitoring the amount of sodium in their diets and in Britain 35 percent of consumers now consider low salt content when buying food.

David Jago, director of trends and innovation at Mintel, said consumers have been relatively slow to add sodium to their dietary black lists but the trend is finally set to take hold.

“The key difference is that sodium reduction is being pushed by food companies and health organizations, not by consumers. This could mean slow adoption of the ‘less salt’ mantra by shoppers, even as the food industry moves ahead,” said Jago in a statement.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this year studies showed most Americans ate 3,436 mg of sodium a day whereas dietary guidelines recommended adults consume less than 2,300 mg a day or about one teaspoon of salt.

As well as the focus on sodium next year, Mintel forecast more companies will print information about calories on packaging, use more boutique style packaging to make buying the mundane seem more enjoyable, and use color code packaging.

Mintel also forecast that high quality private labels will thrive next year as consumers who turned to private labels during the recession stick with their new purchases and the definition of “local” goods will be expanded.

As for new flavors next year, Mintel predicted that cardamon, sweet potato, hibiscus, cupuacu, rose water and latin spices would find a place in U.S. kitchens.

Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Sugita Katyal