KEY INTERVIEW: Umami “On-Trend” Solution for Sodium Reduction

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16 Jan 2017 --- Salt of the Earth, Ltd., has appointed David Hart as new Business Unit Director. He will report to the CEO and be responsible for global business of Mediterranean Umami, an all-natural sodium reduction solution. “We are excited to have David join our team,” said Dovik Tal, CEO for Salt of the Earth. “His extensive experience, especially at the nexus of food and health, is a significant addition of capabilities that will drive the growth of our Mediterranean Umami business around the world.”

Hart has more than 12 years of international experience in food, functional food and health ingredients markets. He has held commercial positions in the industry since 2004, including at multinationals LycoRed and Frutarom. In his most recent position, he served as Vice President of Marketing at Qualitas Health; responsible for the creation of global sales and marketing infrastructure for Almega PL, an award-winning, plant-based omega-3 ingredient. Hart holds an M.Sc. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from University of California, Davis. 

FoodIngredientsFirst caught up with Hart who discusses his new role. “I'm excited to work at Salt of the Earth. The company has a long history and deep roots and has upgraded their innovation process and is more focused on innovative natural solutions to reduce sodium.”

“So far, I have been learning a lot and creating the road-map for the coming years,” says Hart. “It’s great fun to work in the test kitchen and see and taste the impact of our products. Most important, it’s an honor to join Salt of the Earth’s team.”

“A passion for creating healthy products has been a constant in my career over the last 12 years, whether it is functional foods or dietary supplements,” he continues, “This passion, combined with years of international commercial experience, and especially the experience working for innovative start-ups, is part of what I intend on bringing to Salt of the Earth.”

Working in a start-up environment, you must be entrepreneurial, creative, flexible and fast—qualities which I am bringing to this new position,” adds Hart.  

What are your goals for 2017? “We have ambitious goals for our Mediterranean Umami in 2017. We expect to expand our network of distributors around the world and to see multiple product launches using our ingredient for sodium reduction,” he explains. 

“We are seeing a strong demand coming from two directions increased regulatory restrictions on sodium content, and 2) consumers who want healthier and all-natural food. Both of these trends are bringing food companies to look for solutions to reduce sodium.”

In locations like the UK and Israel, where there are or will be, mandatory front-of-package consumer labeling—like the traffic-light system in the UK—there is urgency for food companies to comply to the regulations. According to Hart, “the consumer trend for natural food, with ingredients that are easily understandable, is one of the market-drivers of the industry”. 

“We are sitting at the nexus of these trends and bring a unique solution to the market,” he adds.  

“In addition, we are seeking collaborations with flavor houses – as Mediterranean Umami provides a 100% natural and clean-label solution for sodium reduction. This could be a great synergy, as consumers want the whole package – healthier food with reduced sodium, ingredients that they can understand and recognize and products that taste great.” 

“Mediterranean Umami is an ‘on-trend’ sodium-reduction solution for the food industry, and a great example of Israeli innovation,” adds Hart. “In addition to its outstanding organoleptic properties, Mediterranean Umami is an all-natural ingredient that enables a clean label in food products. Given regulatory requirements in many countries, food manufacturers are searching for technologies to effectively reduce sodium and enhance umami flavor. It is an honor to join one of the pioneers of the Israeli food industry, and I look forward to contributing to the success of Mediterranean Umami and Salt of the Earth.”

With food – the most important thing is the organoleptic profile — it has to taste good. The “Big-3” villains of the food industry—sugar, fat and salt—all taste good, and we are genetically predisposed to LOVE these flavors. When you try to create healthier food and limit the amount of sugar, fat and salt, this usually has a negative organoleptic impact. “So, the main challenge is to have a significant reduction of salt/sodium, while maintaining a positive organoleptic impact,” Hart says, “Luckily for us, Mediterranean Umami is very versatile, allowing for up to 45% sodium reduction while maintaining a tasty flavor profile.”

“Since Mediterranean Umami is part of the flavor profile of the product, it usually requires some sort of reformulation,” Hart expresses. “Our Senior Food Technologist works very closely with each of our customers in a collaborative and iterative manner to reformulate their products to reduce sodium while maintaining their product characteristics. This R&D input is important and part of the support that we gladly provide to our customers. Of course, we guard our customers’ interests very closely, and can’t comment on any specific project. Needless to say, using Mediterranean Umami we have seen sodium reduction up to 45% over multiple applications, like processed meats, bakery products and ready-to-eat meals.” 

The World Health Organization has issued guidelines for reducing salt intake to less than 5 grams/day (less than 2,000 mg sodium / day), from the current levels of 9-12 grams/day. Per the WHO, reducing salt intake has been identified as one of the most cost-effective measures countries can take to improve population health outcomes as salt intake of less than 5 grams/day for adults helps to reduce blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and coronary heart attack. 

The governments of the UK, Israel and the US are among those who have issued regulations regarding sodium-reduction in foods. Given this public health need and regulatory trend, Salt of the Earth has invested significantly in technologies for sodium reduction. 

by Elizabeth Kenward
  

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