Thought for Food

What concerns Americans most about the food they eat? Interestingly, 22 percent of respondents said vitamins and minerals, according to the Food Marketing Institute's 1986 trend report. Following concern over vitamins and minerals were salt (20 percent), sugar (18 percent), fat (17 percent), additives (16 percent), preservatives (15 percent) and cholesterol (13 percent). Tim Hammonds, senior vice president of research and education at FMI, attributed the concern over vitamins and minerals to the campaigns being waged by supplement advertisers, particularly those promoting stress vitamins.

As for other highlights of the trend report, 58 percent of Americans said they are very concerned about nutrition; 35 percent said they are somewhat concerned. The level of concern over nutrition has been dropping slowly since 1983, Hammonds said, data he attributes to a more sophisticated audience rather than to a general lessening of nutritional concern. Hammonds said that survey responses increased from 1983 in the section on behavior patterns, in which people were asked questions such as, "Do you select recipes with nutrition in mind?"

At 48 percent (up 2 percent from 1983), people still rely most on themselves to assure that the food they eat is safe, followed by the federal government (29 percent), consumer organizations (9 percent), manufacturers (8 percent) and retailers (2 percent). On the Calcium Bandwagon Calcium-fortified foods addendum: Similar to the high-fiber cereal battles, the one-upmanship in the calcium-fortified foods department is under way. Borden is test marketing a high-calcium milk that contains 100 percent of the RDA for calcium in one glass, according to Advertising Age. Borden's introduction follows CalciMilk, Lactaid's calcium-fortified milk, with 100 percent of the RDA for calcium in two glasses. Two other calcium-fortified milks -- one from the California Milk Advisory Board and another from the research arm of the United Dairy Industry Association -- are also being test marketed. Also coming soon: calcium-fortified Tab, with 10 percent of the RDA for calcium. Soup's On Campbell finally got the message to lower the sodium in its soups. Last week, the company started a limited test market of soups called Special Request. The new line, which so far includes five flavors, contains approximately a third less sodium than the regular line. A serving of Campbell's regular tomato soup contains 800 milligrams of sodium, the Special Request version contains 470; the company's regular vegetable soup at 820 milligrams has been lowered to 530 milligrams for the Special Request line.

Larry Carpenter, senior marketing manager for Campbell's soup division, said the company started the reformulation by cutting the amount of salt in the regular soups to half but that test panelists found the soup too bland. The new line was developed to give consumers a choice between the company's regular soups and low sodium varieties, Carpenter said, as well as being a response to the "health and flavor issue."

And for those who don't have the time or patience to empty a can of soup into a pot and walk to the stove to heat it, Campbell has come out with a line of shelf-stable microwaveable soups that can be heated and eaten in their plastic bowls or cups.

sw,-4 sk,4 Although it makes for strange pantry mates, the same company that cans soup is cultivating shiitake and oyster mushrooms, growing hydroponic vegetables, raising fresh baby coho salmon and test marketing fresh asparagus.