Efforts to reduce the daily sodium intake of U.S. consumers have been underway for decades with little progress, in part because salt has many desirable properties and serves as an inexpensive way to enhance the flavor of food, making good food taste even better.
Despite national salt reduction initiatives, salt mentions on major chain and independent restaurant menus have increased by 144 percent over the last five years. Technomic’s MenuMonitor analysis of more than 2,000 top chains, emerging concepts, and leading independent restaurants reports that not only have operators included salt on the menu with greater frequency, but the evolution of salt use across menu categories has shifted dramatically.
“Salt and pepper has always been prevalent on the menu,” says Technomic executive vice president Darren Tristano. “However, we are seeing more artisan, spice-blended, and designer finishing salts being introduced broadly across appetizers, entrees, and dessert menus. Although the roots of this trend originate in fine dining establishments, it’s catching on in mainstream casual-dining, fast-casual, and quick-service restaurant chains.”
Tristano also points out, however, that the addition of these menu descriptors does not necessarily indicate a conflict with the restaurant industry’s efforts to lower the overall sodium content in food, and that the salt not included in menu descriptions has been consistently lessened in recent years, even as these artisanal uses of the spice have increased.
MenuMonitor is an online, searchable menu program that allows users the ability to search menus by key words for more than 2,000 global menus in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Canada, and Mexico. Now updated quarterly, analysis, and reports can be generated on menu and culinary trends over the last eight years.
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