The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and the British Retail Consortium (BRC) will team up with Leatherhead on the research project, which is set to begin this month.
Co-funded by the FDF, BRC and Leatherhead, the project is designed to take stock of the industry’s reformulation achievements to date and help firms assess methods for the future.
The results of the research will culminate in a report, available next year, which will provide a free resource to support food manufacturers around the world, according to the FDF.
The research is also part of a “food chain-wide commitment” to improving public health through reformulation and allowing firms to increase consumer choice.
Terry Jones, FDF communications director, said: "While food manufacturers have already invested heavily and made great strides in salt reformulation, this partnership demonstrates our industry's keenness to find solutions to continue this good work.
“Leatherhead Food Research's salt reduction expertise made them the natural choice to work with on this project. We are pleased by their enthusiasm for the project and its objectives as shown by their decision to co-fund."
Andrew Opie, BRC food director, added: “Our members have shown their commitment to give consumers healthier choices by consistently meeting salt targets. They are backing this up with funding for credible, independent research which will make a valuable contribution to our understanding of where further salt reduction is practicable."
Dr Paul Berryman, ceo of Leatherhead Food Research, described the challenge of salt reduction as “complex” and stressed the importance of the work that lies ahead.
He said: “"We are delighted to be working with the FDF and BRC on this project. It is so important that we decided to co-fund the research. Salt reduction sounds easy, but it isn't. We are particularly worried about the effects on food safety and shelf life.
“Salt is a traditional preservative, so we will be checking for unintended consequences, like unwanted bacterial growth. Consumers must be happy with the taste too, or they will just add in table salt. It's a complex issue."