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28/01/2019 – News / Retail / Health / Salt / China / Mintel

A whopping 94% of urban Chinese consumers have reduced their salt intake, reveals new Mintel study

A whopping 94% of urban Chinese consumer

With families in China soon coming together to feast during the Lunar New Year (5th February) celebrations, new research from leading market research agency Mintel reveals that an overwhelming majority of China’s urban consumers are cutting down on their salt intake amidst rising health concerns.


In a country where most of its regional dishes are heavy on flavour, Mintel reveals that health is now taking the lead over flavour as the majority (94 per cent) of urban Chinese consumers have reduced their salt intake in the last six months (based on research undertaken with 2,100 internet users aged 20-49). 


Among consumers who have cooked in the last six months, efforts taken towards salt reduction include using less salt when cooking (55 per cent), while over a third (37 per cent) are using less MSG (monosodium glutamate) and soy sauce (36 per cent). In addition, nearly two-in-five (38 per cent) consumers are reducing their salt intake by consuming less processed food (such as instant noodles, sausage, chips, etc.).


Consumers “understand the dangers of a high-salt diet” 


“Driven by increasing health concerns, Chinese consumers are taking care over their diets and trying to avoid ‘bad’ elements like salt and MSG,” advised a Food and Drink Research Analyst for Mintel in China. “Although it is likely the majority of consumers don’t exactly know the daily recommended salt intake, it seems that most actually understand the dangers of a high-salt diet and are trying to limit their daily intake. 


“Today’s consumers are also more knowledgeable and attentive about product information. Brands should look into MSG-free flavour enhancements and leverage them, particularly through their marketing efforts, as consumers become more sensitive towards product information,” they added.


The need for ‘clean label’


As consumers are now avoiding products that include unhealthy elements such as salt and MSG, together with the much-debated GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), so-called ‘clean label’ is becoming a must for Chinese consumers, particularly when it comes to parents.


Indeed, when it comes to the nation’s much-loved soy sauce, as many as 33 per cent of consumers who are married with one child consider if a light or dark soy sauce contains GMO ingredients before making a purchase, while just one-quarter of married couples without children do the same. Meanwhile, a quarter of married consumers with one child consider the level of sodium/salt content and whether it contains MSG.


“Consumers’ increasing awareness of their salt and MSG consumption is also affecting how they are using and purchasing the type of seasonings,” continued Mintel’s food and drink industry market specialist. “Today’s consumers are no longer willing to compromise on healthiness for better flavours—and this has made clean labels pivotal in their daily diets. For instance, they focus on whether the product contains GMO ingredients and MSG, and whether it has a high content of salt. This is a sentiment that’s more prevalent among consumers with kids in their families. As such, soy sauce, and other seasoning brands, can look into launching products featuring clean label and zero additives to fill the gap in the Chinese marketplace.”

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