Global consumer goods manufacturer General Mills says it has met or exceeded its pledged goal to reduce sodium in seven out of a total ten food categories. Earlier this year, the company committed to reducing sodium by 20 percent across 10 key US retail product categories by the end of 2015.

Reductions across the categories ranged from 18 to 35 percent. The highest percentage decrease in sodium was in the savory snacks categories followed by frozen pizza, canned vegetables, baking mixes, dinner mixes, refrigerated dough and side dishes. Ready-to-serve soup, Mexican dinners and cereal fell just short of the 20 percent goal.

“Sodium reduction has been effort key focus of our continuing efforts to improve the health profile of our products,” says Maha Tahiri, General Mills chief health and wellness officer and vice president, Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition. “Reducing sodium is not a simple task and we knew the 20 percent target would be a challenge.”

To make the change, General Mills says its product developers were able to swap out sodium for additional spices to ensure flavors remained vibrant. In other products, the placement of sodium was adjusted—moving it from inside a product, to the surface to ensure it’s tasted. General Mills took a gradual approach to sodium reduction using small, incremental steps to introduce the changes gradually, giving people time to adapt their palates to the lower sodium levels.

“Taste is the main driver of food purchases – and we believe making repeated changes to accomplish a series of gradual reductions is the best way to continue to deliver the great taste consumers expect, while also supporting our commitment to the goal of reducing sodium intake in the American diet,” Tahiri says.