BLOG: Potato Chips, Himalayan Salt and Marketing
Although potato chips producers surprise us almost every day with innovation in terms of new flavors launched, the classic assortments always remain on the shelves.
This makes me think that most people are just like me and my close ones: whatever new aromas can be found on the savory snack aisle, it is good to go back to the classics from time to time, and salt chips are an all-time classic.
However, researchers have been taking a closer look at salt recently. Besides known concerns that high salt intake can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and dying from other heart-related causes, scientists have linked salt excess to obesity, even independent of calorie consumption. A study conducted at Deakin University’s Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research (C-PAN), Australia, showed that consuming salty, fatty foods is linked to overeating and becoming overweight, even more than when choosing sweet and fatty foods.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams (mgs) a day for an adult. For comparison, 100 grams of regular potato chips contain 525mgs of sodium, actually almost a quarter of the total daily intake.
However, it is quite interesting that trends such as “healthy” or “premiumization” have succeeded to impact even this most classic flavor ever: “salt”. Nowadays, most companies don’t produce only the simplest formula, but the shelves are full of “Himalayan salt”, “Himalayan pink salt”, “Sea salt”, “Sea salt & pepper”, “Simply salted”, etc. This way, the producers position a simple product in categories that are seen as healthier, because Himalayan or sea salt must be healthy, aren’t they? And because they are not just regular types of salt (and however not cheap kinds) they are also premium, special and made for a special type of consumer, who is actually “someone”.
This is a nice way to appease the general health concern regarding the salt intake and especially of sodium intake. Himalayan salt now has the reputation of containing more calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron, but less sodium than processed table salt. Nevertheless, the amounts of these minerals in pink Himalayan salt are quite small, yet the sales succeed worldwide.
The boundaries between indulgence and healthy habits seem to be blurry for consumers. By comparison, products labeled as unsalted or with “reduced amount of salt” are lagging behind new premium salt options.