Reduction of dietary sodium intake by lowering amount of sodium in foods is a global industry target. Quantitative information on current consumer knowledge of sodium reduction trends in Korea is unknown. The objective of this study was to quantify the consumer knowledge and awareness of sodium and salt reduction in foods and to characterize consumer interest in health labeling on the food package. Additionally, comparison of consumer knowledge status between Korea and United States was followed. Consumers (n = 289) participated in an internet survey designed to gauge consumer knowledge and attitudes toward dietary sodium, the sodium content in representative food products (n = 27), and their interest toward specific health claims, including sodium labeling. Questions regarding demographics as well as consumption characteristics were asked. Sodium knowledge index and saltiness belief index were calculated based on the number of correct responses regarding the salt level and sodium content in given food products. Kano analysis was conducted to determine the role of nutrition labels in consumer satisfaction with products. Current consumer knowledge on the sodium content in food products was high, and consumers were adept at matching the sodium content with the salty taste intensity of food products. Consumers’ knowledge of the relationship between diets high in sodium and an increased risk of developing previously reported sodium-related diseases, such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, kidney disease, and stomach cancer, were also high. Information on the nutrition panel that influences the consumer satisfaction (trans-fat, sodium, ingredient list, and country of origin) as well as adjective-nutrition claim pairs that appeal positively to purchase intent of the product were identified.
This work provided the current status of Korean consumer knowledge on the amount of sodium in food and that sodium can be a risk factor of developing chronic diseases. It also provided practical information to food marketers on what consumers like and what they want to see on product labels in Korea.