Sea Salt for the Growing “Premium” Category

What is premiumization and why sea salt is appearing on more food ingredient labels that would otherwise just list salt.

Consumers are itching for the taste of the good life, even in small quantities.  Sales of products in the “premium” tier—which Nielsen defines as goods that cost at least 20% more than average price for the category—are growing at a rapid pace.1 Some of the big-player manufacturers have struggled to keep pace with smaller players. For example, in the U.S., the 25 largest food and beverage companies drove only 3% of the total category growth from 2011 to 2015, while companies below the top 100 drove nearly half (49%). 1

What does “premium” means to consumers? According to a recent study by Nielsen, 54% of respondents from around the world cited its production with high-quality materials or ingredients as being an attribute of “premium” products, while another 46% pointed to it offering superior function or performance. Attributes such as the product having a superior design (38%), coming from a well-known or trusted brand (38%) and offering or doing something no other product provides (37%) are more likely to be associated with the term “premium.”1

Within the US, the Nielsen study highlights the food category with strong potential for premium products:

  • Among food items, premium products are 13% of the category and grew by 8% from 2014-20151

Opportunities for food manufacturers to take advantage of sea salt’s premium positioning abound. Processed food, for example, is usually not considered a primary space for premium products. It’s often cited as a potential contributor to our nation’s obesity epidemic and high blood pressure. But processed food can be more than boxed mac and cheese or frozen pizza. Reducing ingredient lists and using consumer friendly, recognizable ingredients such as sea salt can help elevate your products positioning.

Processed food falls on a spectrum from minimally to more heavily processed.2  Sea salt, as an ingredient, will likely play well in some of the more minimally processed foods — such as frozen or fresh pre-cut vegetables and roasted seasoned nuts. Sea salt can also work in canned foods such as whole, diced or crushed tomatoes — processed at their peak for nutritional quality and freshness.2 Another opportunity space for sea salt is in foods where sea salt is part of the flavor positioning as in  salad dressings and even specialty crackers.

Simply choosing sea salt for your products may have a profound impact on your brand. Cargill is a leading sea salt supplier to the food processing industry, offering one of the broadest and most assured lines of sea salt products available. If you need bulk sea salt or bagged sea salt – with or without additives – Cargill can be your sea salt ingredient partner.

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