Hollow salty balls from Blighty impress the Yanks

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Salt Taste Sodium

Results in bread have been particularly impressive
Results in bread have been particularly impressive
More than 40 food and drink manufacturers in the US and Canada are experimenting with a new breed of microscopic salt crystals from UK-based firm Eminate enabling firms to slash sodium and retain their clean-labels.

Speaking to FoodManufacture.co.uk after we published news about Eminate’s US ambitions last week, Wisconsin-based Main Street Ingredients said ultra-low sodium bakery products made with Eminate’s novel micro-salt ‘Soda-Lo’ could hit shelves in North America within weeks.

Guy Bouthillier, director of new business development said: “To date, we have had over 75 requests for additional information and close to 40 companies requesting samples. Bakery seems to be the area of most interest. One bakery will be introducing a product in the upcoming weeks. Others are still in the evaluation process.

“But topical and spice applications have demonstrated vivid interest too – especially for salty snacks​ [Eminate has developed an oil-insoluble version of Soda-Lo that prevents it from dissolving on the oily surface of crisps and losing its impact].

"Consumer acceptance and pilot plant trials are underway at several companies.”

Hollow salty and round …

It is well-known that the smaller the crystals, the higher the salt perception. However, simply grinding salt to make the particles smaller does not deliver as the tiny particles quickly lose their free-flowing properties and stick together.

By contrast, Soda-Lo has been engineered using a patented process that re-crystallises salt to create free-flowing, microscopic hollow balls that at 5-10 microns are a fraction of the size of standard salt (c.200-500 microns), deliver an intense, salty hit on the taste buds, and can still be listed as ‘salt’ on labels.

While US manufacturers have been under pressure to reduce sodium for some time, Canadian firms have been a bit more proactive, said Bouthillier.

“Up to now a lot of interest was coming from food processors marketing their products in Canada, as they are a bit further ahead on sodium reduction requirements than the USA.”

However, Wal-Mart’s pledge to reduce salt in its wares had given fresh impetus to many US firms, he said.

“We have noticed a significant increase in activity in the USA since ​[Wal-Mart chief executive] Bill Simon announced the plan to reduce the amount of sodium, added sugars and trans-fatty acids in specific categories of private label and national brand food and beverage products it sells in its stores by 2015.”

Cost vs benefits

Firms committed to sodium reduction accept that there will be a cost implication, said Bouthillier, but many salt alternatives on the market were prohibitively expensive for use in mainstream products or presented consumers with something they didn’t recognise on a food label.

“In speaking with large users of salt what we find is they can’t afford to replace salt at $0.20/kg with a flavour enhancer at $20.00/kg.”

And while Soda-Lo was more expensive than standard salt, its clean-label credentials gave it a clear advantage over some other low-sodium products “which rely on the replacement of sodium chloride with potentially more complicated ingredient listings and chemical named ingredients”, ​he said.

“Soda-Lo has generated a lot of attention as a new technology which enables a reduction in salt use of 25-50% across a wide range of food products. Receptiveness of this new technology is excellent and increases significantly once potential users taste it."

UK success story

Eminate has conducted extensive trials with Soda-Lo in the UK on everything from cheese to salty snacks, but the results in bread have been the most encouraging, with Soda-Lo enabling plant bakers to cut salt by up to 80% without impacting volume, texture or weight and increasing shelf-life as the tiny salt crystals cross-link gluten in dough more effectively, helping to lock in moisture.

Click here​ to read more about sodium reduction initiatives in the US at our sister site FoodNavigatorusa.com.

Related topics Bakery

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