TABLE TALK – Table sauces and condiments – tasty sales all year round

chazWhen the weather’s cold, bring on the sauces! Table sauces and condiments are big business for delivered wholesalers and cash ‘n’ carries, and take in a wide spectrum of products, from table sauces and mayonnaise at one end, via hot sauces to pickles, chutney and relish at the other. Staple products for independent retailers and catering customers, they’re a tasty sales opportunity year in year out.

In table sauces and mayo, the two market leading brands are long established global icons that 9 out of 10 consumers recognise instantly in store, and so will your customers – Heinz Tomato Sauce and Hellmann’s Mayonnaise. These two giants have built the British sauces market more than anyone, and both continue to invest heavily to keep their brands front of mind for consumers.

Tomato ketchup and mayonnaise dominate the table sauces market and to a large extent dictate the fortunes of the overall category, but alongside them there’s still plenty of scope for other recipes and tastes. Brown sauce has its own following, as ‘HP’ loyalists will avow. In recent years niche products such as hot pepper sauces have also been gaining ground and moving out of their original strongholds in the ethnic community into the mainstream. So it pays for you to enable your customers to stock these products.

The market for pickles, chutney and relish is considerably smaller than table sauces and mayo. Mintel maintains this market has not grown in real terms for the past five years, and is not likely to grow in the next five, without the same level of marketing investment we see in table sauces and mayo. Nevertheless these products will remain important for wholesalers and their customers.  Despite some innovation in sour pickles, pickles overall have not attracted the attention of younger, more culinary adventurous consumers as might have been expected.

Many products in the pickles, chutneys and relishes market also serve as accompaniments. Pickles comprise sour pickles, ie products in pickling spice and vinegar, such as onions, gherkins, cucumbers, cabbage, beetroot and walnuts; piccalilli; and sweet pickles such as Branston. Relishes are an American concept, strongly associated with the consumption of burgers and barbecued meats.

Most commercially produced chutneys are now made here, and are still based on fruits rather than vegetables. With curry firmly established in our food repertoire, spice-loving Brits have taken chutneys to their hearts and given the chance will enjoy them with everything.