An unprecedented innovation from Valio: 50% less salt with the same taste

The food industry has long been expected to provide solutions to reducing salt. With the new milk salt innovation from Valio, Valio ValSa®, the salt content of foods can be significantly reduced without compromising on taste.

“It would be easy to reduce salt in products if we did not have to worry about the taste. But consumers want healthy products which also taste great. Milk is an endless source of innovations. For years, we have been conducting product development with milk salt, and now we are introducing a unique solution to reducing salt,” says Tuomas Salusjärvi,  who is responsible for product development and product groups at Valio as Executive Vice President.

With Valio ValSa® milk salt, it is possible to replace some of the ordinary table salt which is used in the manufacturing of foods and which contains a large amount of sodium, and the salt level of products is therefore significantly reduced – without compromising on taste.

It all began with health cheese

For decades, Valio has studied whey, which is a by-product of cheese manufacturing. For a long time, whey from milk has been utilised by extracting its high-quality whey protein. Now we have also found a purpose for the natural minerals in milk whey: Valio ValSa® milk salt.

In May, Valio is bringing to stores the new Valio Polar® 15 cheese with less salt and the Valio Oivariini® spread with less salt. They have been manufactured by using the Valio ValSa® milk salt innovation. Therefore, these products have 50% less salt than ordinary margarine spreads and cheeses, without compromising on taste.

“It is no easy task to manufacture products with a great taste by utilising milk salt. It required innovativeness and exact optimisation of recipes by our product developers. The core of the Valio ValSa® innovation is in the way milk salt and, for example, the taste of cheese are made to work perfectly together. In product development, we have tested, for example, different combinations of fermentation bacteria, different amounts of fat and different ways of preserving in salt,” explains Tuomas Salusjärvi.

The development work of the Valio ValSa® innovation has taken nearly 10 years. Originally the aim was to develop a true health cheese, and the intention was to use milk salt only in this cheese.

“Soon we understood that if we only reduce the salt level in cheese, the impact on the total salt intake will still remain fairly small. We started to think in broader terms. This is how we came up with the idea of also utilising milk salt in spreads and bread,” says Tuomas Salusjärvi.

In May, Fazer is introducing Oululainen Reilu futissämpylä breads, which have been manufactured by using the Valio ValSa® milk salt innovation.

Aiming at international markets

The new products that will appear in stores in May are just a beginning. Valio's goal is to reduce 60,000 kg of salt from the Finnish diet over  the next three years. This means that more products will be launched with a great taste but less salt.

“Salt is a global challenge. Some EU countries, in addition to Finland, have started to make efforts to reduce salt through national programmes. In Great Britain, for example, salt is a much discussed topic. The United States has also been looking for solutions to reduce salt. So there are potential export markets around the world for the Valio ValSa® milk salt innovation, also in other than dairy products,” says Category Manager Teea Björklund from Valio.

Milk salt, what is it?

Milk salt consists of the natural minerals in milk: potassium, iodine, magnesium, calcium, as well as sodium. The minerals found in milk come from the fodder eaten by cows. Ordinary table salt consists almost completely of sodium chloride. Milk salt contains nearly 80% less sodium than ordinary table salt. The salty taste in milk salt is derived from the potassium that milk naturally contains, instead of sodium.

For more information:

Tuomas Salusjärvi, Executive Vice President, Valio Oy, tel. 010 381 2529, email tuomas.salusjarvi@valio.fi, Twitter @SalusjarviT

Teea Björklund, Category Manager, Valio Oy, tel. 050 384 2653, email teea.bjorklund@valio.fi, Twitter @teeabjork