Lowering Sodium in Cheese: Challenges and Solutions

Session Track: Sodium Reduction: Product Development Strategies & Applications
Session Date: Thursday, March 20, 2014; 12:45 - 1:45 p.m.

Session Description

This session presents the Task Force led by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy as a model for successfully reducing sodium content in food. The methodology of the Task Force was based on extensive consumer and product research and identified four primary avenues for addressing sodium reduction in cheese: education on the important role of salt in the product safety, texture, performance, and flavor of cheese; reduction of sodium variability through the use of technology that facilitates rapid sodium measurement in real-time; updated safety curves that incorporate lower sodium levels; and innovative research on the viability and safety of sodium substitutes.

Speaker Information

Bill Graves, Senior Vice President, Product Research, Dairy Research Institute

Nigel Kirtley, Vice President, RD&Q, Kraft Foods

Bill Graves has over 30 years of experience in Research, Development, and Quality with organizations such as Kraft Foods and the Dairy Research Institute. He has led a large number of food & beverage innovation projects across more than ten different categories and hold five patents.  

Nigel Kirtley is Vice President of Cheese & Dairy Research Development & Quality at Kraft Foods. He assumed his current position in 2007 and is located at the Kraft Foods Technology Center in Glenview, Illinois. He reports to the President Kraft Foods Cheese & Dairy and is a member of the business Leadership Team. His responsibilities include product, package and process technology and development as well as quality and food safety for the cheese business. His role includes responsibility for Kraft’s Dairy Technology group which undertakes dairy ingredient and process technology development on behalf of the broader Kraft enterprise. He is a member of the Health and Wellness Committee at the DMI Innovation Center for US Dairy and chairs the Sodium Reduction Working group.

A British national by birth, Nigel has spent most of his adult life outside of the UK having lived and worked in Belgium, Germany and Switzerland before moving to the USA.

He joined Kraft Foods in 1988 at the Munich Germany Research Centre and has held a series of technology positions within R&D as well as Strategy and Organisational Development.  For a number of years he worked in operations and manufacturing as Director Strategy and Central Engineering Confectionery based in Halle, Belgium. He has worked in a variety of product categories during his international career including Cheese & Dairy, Chocolate, Grocery, Convenient Meals, Salted Snacks, Desserts and Powdered Beverages. Prior to joining Kraft Foods, Nigel worked in industrial marketing for Alfa Laval in UK and originally started his career with Cadbury-Schweppes as a project engineer.


Nigel has a B.Sc. in Biochemistry, a M.Sc. in Engineering and an MBA and holds several international patents. He is married with two teenage daughters and lives in the Chicago north shore.