Last week, ConAgra Foods Inc. (CAG) announced that it would reduce salt by 20% across its portfolio of food products by 2015. Since 2006, the company has already removed more than 2 million pounds of salt from it products. The company’s commitment builds on ConAgra Foods’ legacy as a leader in helping consumers reduce and control sodium intake. 

More than 20 years ago, ConAgra Foods introduced Healthy Choice meals to the marketplace, the first and still the only line of meals in the grocery store to earn the “healthy” label, in part, for meeting the U.S. government’s recommendations for healthy sodium levels. 

In fact, the latest HealthFocus Trend Report noted that both interest in and use of lower salt options among primary grocery shoppers has increased dramatically over the past four years. In 2004, 19% of shoppers indicated they used low-sodium products once a week or more, compared to 41% using low-sodium products once a week or more in 2008. 

Building on the knowledge and expertise gained through the development of recipes for Healthy Choice, ConAgra Foods’ chefs and scientists have worked diligently since 2006 to reduce salt in various brands, including Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn and Chef Boyardee pasta. 

We believe that if the food industry were to follow ConAgra Foods’ lead and reduce salt by 20% across product portfolios, U.S. medical costs might be reduced by as much as $4 billion to $10 billion annually. 

This will also benefit the company in particular as it will reduce operating cost to a great extent. ConAgra Foods expects fiscal 2010 full-year diluted EPS from continuing operations, excluding items impacting comparability, to approach $1.70, based on the expectations for continued progress in the consumer foods segment throughout the remainder of the fiscal year.
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