Salty snacks and drinks are an age old pairing but a new study has raised questions about the deals between salty food manufacturers and soft drinks producers; by suggesting that if the public followed nutritionists’ advice and cut salt intake, it would cost beverage companies billions of pounds.

Salt is widely known to contribute to high blood pressure, and nutritionists recommend halving our average salt intake to five grammes from ten grammes, to avoid the chance of a heart attack or stroke. If all consumers in the UK and the USA actually followed the health advice however, daily fluid intake per person would also drop by nearly 350 millilitres, the equivalent of one can of soft drink. 

The figures, the first of their kind, are the result of a study by Graham MacGregor and his colleagues at St George’s Hospital Medical School in London. The researchers compared salt intake with urine volume, as an indicator of how much people drink.
McGregor told the Wall Street Journal Europe that the study shows how decreasing consumption of salty snacks “will have a large impact on the sales of soft drinks, mineral water and beer”. His team estimates that considering a quarter of all fluids consumed is in the form of soft drinks, UK sales in this sector would fall by around 13m drinks a year if people halved their salt intake. In the US meanwhile, the team estimates that soft drinks consumption could plummet by around 40bn drinks.

Many high profile deals have been drawn up between soft drinks companies and salted-snack market players recently. Notably Coca-Cola announced a deal last year with P&G over the distribution of Pringles potato snacks.