General Mills products - Chex Mix, Pillsbury biscuits, Progresso soup
General Mills has reformulated products like Chex Mix snacks, Progresso soups and Pillsbury refrigerated dough as part of long-term efforts to reduce sodium.

MINNEAPOLIS — General Mills, Inc. has reformulated such products as Chex Mix snacks, Progresso soups and Pillsbury refrigerated dough products as part of long-term efforts to reduce sodium by 20% across 10 product categories by the end of 2015. The Minneapolis-based company said it has met or exceeded the goal in seven categories, with reductions across the 10 categories ranging from 18% to 35%.

The initiative involves more than 350 products, or more than one-third of the company’s current U.S. Retail sales volume. General Mills said it has reduced sodium in savory snacks by 35%, frozen pizza by 29%, canned vegetables by 28%, variety baking mixes by 24%, dinner mixes by 21%, refrigerated dough products by 21%, side dishes by 20%, ready-to-serve soups by 19%, Mexican dinners by 19% and cereal by 18%. Results were calculated based on labeled sodium values and weighted product ship volumes in 2008 and 2015.

“Reducing sodium is not a simple task, and we knew the 20% target would be a challenge,” said Maha Tahiri, Ph.D., chief health and wellness officer of General Mills and vice-president, Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition. “I am proud to have exceeded our very aggressive goals in 7 of our key 10 categories, and to have come so very close in others.”

The company’s approach involved gradual reductions in sodium over time to allow consumers’ palates to adapt. In some products, the company added more spices to maintain flavor; in others, developers moved the sodium to the surface so it is more readily tasted.

“Taste is the main driver of food purchases, and we believe making repeated changes to accomplish a series of gradual reductions is the best way to continue to deliver the great taste consumers expect, while also supporting our commitment to the goal of reducing sodium intake in the American diet,” Dr. Tahiri said.

The company announced its sodium reduction efforts in 2010.