Southover Foods Company is in the process of tweaking its cooked meat recipes to produce a low salt ham.
At its new development kitchen in Southwick in Sussex, the company aims to produce a ham with less than 2% residual salt.
"Producing new products can prove very complicated because as soon as you start tweaking products, it can dramatically change the taste," said md Steve Pearce. "By lowering salt, sometimes it can also change the binding quality of ham."
Southover Foods started to develop the low salt products three months ago and it is still at the development stage.
Pearce said that at one point in the production process, the company lowered the salt content to 1.5%: "No one really liked it - it was incredible. Comments on the tasting sheets said that the meat was bland."
Pearce said that people have come to expect ham to taste salty. But when the company completely de-fatted the dry ham prior to cooking it, the result proved popular.
"But still I personally prefer the Farm House because a bit of fat carries flavour, " he claims.
"We try to be as innovative as possible in the cooked meat range but I think the UK's diet is fairly traditional. People just aren't interested in wacky ideas for cooked meat such as ham and marmite and what have you - there is a limited market so you just need to develop something practical."
Southover Food Company has completed a £350,000 refurbishment and expansion plan. The expansion has increased production space by almost 30%, and added a new slicing and dispatch unit, as well as a development kitchen.
The development kitchen has made it possible for the company to start adjusting recipes. "With a cooked meat range we just didn't want to stand still," said Pearce.
One of Southover's most innovative products was its Cooked Smoked Back Bacon, as an alternative to raw bacon. This product can be heated up in a microwave, making it easy to use for caterers and the foodservice.
"It makes the perfect bacon sandwich in seconds," added Pearce and it recently won a gold at the Great Taste Awards.