Frozen entree leader Nestle Prepared Foods Company, Solon, Ohio, said it will cut sodium content in its products by another 10 percent from reductions made earlier this decade. Officials said the initiative will carry through 2015 and includes the company's Stouffer's, Lean Cuisine, Buiton, Hot Pockets and Lean Pockets brands, which will undergo gradual but steady recipe changes.

"We are dedicated to helping people improve their overall wellness by providing convenient, wholesome and delicious foods. That's what we mean by "Good Food, Good Life," the statement that appears on a number of our consumer communications," said Brad Alford, Chairman & CEO of Nestle USA.  "Adjusting our sodium levels is part of our broader effort to create delicious and nutritious options that contribute to healthier lifestyles."

New ingredients, classic flavors

Nestle also announced a new line of Stouffer's Farmers' Harvest meals, to be available nationally by year's end. The line includes three new family size meals and seven new individual servings of classic but updated favorites, such as Macaroni & Cheese and Lasagna.

New Farmers' Harvest entrees will feature premium ingredients such as sea salt, olive oil and real cheese, Nestle said. Eight new offerings contain whole grains and four individual meals each contain a half-cup of vegetables. Sodium content for these ten varieties ranges from 660-950 mg (28 percent to 40 percent DV or Percent Daily Value). 

"Now is the perfect time to introduce Farmers' Harvest," Alford said.  "Consumers live in an 'and' world. They want great taste and sound nutrition, convenience and variety. This is exactly the need Farmers' Harvest meets by offering a convenient and delicious way to satisfy both taste and nutrition needs."

Updating a classic

Modernizing Macaroni & Cheese is another way that Nestle says it has improved the nutritional profile and sodium content of its offerings, while still assuring taste.  First introduced in 1954, the company's top-selling Stouffer's Macaroni & Cheese is now available in a variety made with whole grain, introduced in the Farmers' Harvest range.

In addition, classic Stouffer's Macaroni & Cheese has decreased sodium levels in its 20-ounce and  12-ounce packages from 920 mg per serving to 820 mg per serving (from 38 percent DV to 34 percent DV, an average decrease of 10 percent) since 2005. The average sodium level for the entire range of Stouffer's meals is now at 876 mg (36.5 percent DV).

"We've taken a 'slow but steady' approach to updating our Macaroni & Cheese," noted Alford.  "We wanted to make this change in a way that consumers would adapt to easily and enjoyably. As it turns out, 'slow and steady' has been a successful approach in transitioning this American favorite to this new sodium level."