There’s no doubt that consumers are making different decisions than they would have made just 10 years ago – the rise of veganism has been exponential, with one in four products in the UK in 2019 labelled as vegan (The Guardian) and the world is seeing consumers become increasingly conscious of the brands they buy, choosing to invest in those which have well-developed CSR policies.

“Consumers want to ensure they are doing their part and making a difference in small ways, therefore may choose to invest in a brand which is acting socially responsibly,” says Albert Oberholzer, Co-founder of Dr Trouble. “When we created Dr Trouble sauces we knew our approach to CSR was unique; every time you purchase a sauce, it directly helps the rural communities in Zimbabwe to survive. By supporting small Zimbabwean villagers paying them for produce, employing local people and funding schooling for 150 local village children, we have a true USP and it appeals to increasingly conscious consumers.”

This positive and essential mindset shift is not likely to be lost in the Covid-19 aftermath and it’s been suggested that more businesses are feeling the pressure from consumers to be more conscious and aware of their responsibility (Forbes).

Dr Trouble is seeing the demand for its African Lemon Chilli Sauce coming from foodies who enjoy adding hot sauce to dishes and who’s palette can handle a medium heat, without it overpowering their food. Meanwhile, the purchasers of the Oak Smoked Chilli Sauce are generally using it as a marinading sauce when cooking from scratch – pairing it with red meats, barbeque dishes and even serving it on traditional breakfasts like eggs on toast.

“Wholesalers should be aware of the growing number of consumers following vegan and flexitarian diets, which has been accelerated due to the pandemic,” comments Sebastian Lowa – International Sales Manager at Follow Your Heart. “25% of Brits aged between 21 to 30 say that the pandemic has made a vegan diet more appealing. This means it is more important than ever to stock a comprehensive range of vegan products.”

An increasing number of vegan condiments are being launched into the market, including those from big name non-vegan brands driving legitimacy in the eyes of consumers and expanding the sector further. Competition in the condiments aisle also means shoppers are enjoying more options and have better taste credentials than ever before. Noticeably, consumers are increasingly keen to try innovative flavours of mayonnaise, something which wholesalers should be aware of when choosing which products to stock.

Follow Your Heart’s Vegenaise range includes Sriracha and Garlic Aioli flavours, giving wholesalers the opportunity to tap into this trend.

“Wholesalers should therefore consider a vegan range which delivers great taste in a variety of flavours, an area where Follow Your Heart performs well thanks to its 50-year heritage,” adds Lowa. “The brand has an extensive range of plant-based products, from Vegenaise through to vegan cheeses, and this gives wholesalers a huge amount of choice to select the right products for their customer base and easily fill the gaps in their plant-based offering.”

Follow Your Heart has ongoing marketing programmes which include media engagement and influencer work. The brand is ramping up investment in the UK, only this summer launching bespoke social media platforms for its British audience, as well as working with vegan chef So Vegan.

“The soy sauce market has seen an upsurge in sales of larger pack formats, driven in part by households cooking more from scratch and not going out to eat since the start of the pandemic,” comments Bing-yu Lee, General Manager, Kikkoman UK.

Kikkoman is the number one soy sauce brand, with a 33% value share of the total soy sauce market (MAT to August ’20).

The brand’s 500ml bottles are +29.9% MAT on the previous year to August ’20 (IRI).

Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce 150ml Dispenser is the brand’s best-selling SKU, accounting for 41.5% of unit sales. Kikkoman Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce is the second-best seller with 18.6% of unit sales, closely followed by Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce 250ml accounting for 17.3% of sales (IRI).

Kikkoman is taking one of the most popular condiments in Japan, Ponzu, and adding it to its famous naturally brewed soy sauce to launch a Ponzu Citrus Soy Sauce.

Traditionally used as a sauce for meat and fish dishes, as well as a dressing for salads, Ponzu is made with citrus fruits, mirin, rice vinegar and dashi (Japanese stock made from bonito flakes and seaweed). Ponzu is often used as an addition to soy sauce, so it is a natural step for Kikkoman to bring the two flavours together.

Bing-yu Lee said, “With the rise in Japanese cuisine and the demand for Japanese ingredients and products we feel the UK consumer is ready for Ponzu. By blending Ponzu and soy consumers can now get the great taste and flavour enhancing benefits of both lemon and soy sauce in one bottle.

“Despite lack of familiarity our research showed strong consumer interest in Kikkoman Ponzu, and with a desire to explore usage options. Over 80% of our research group said they might or would definitely buy it. The biggest appeal came from the vibrant zesty aroma and citrus flavour and consumers saw usage primarily with grilled meats, in particular chicken and fish and, with a strong leaning towards salads. We will be actively promoting it as a great alternative to vinegar over traditional fish and chips.”

Kikkoman Ponzu Citrus Soy Sauce has a balanced flavour of salty, sweet, tangy and sour. It is designed for use as a pouring or dipping sauce and is available in a 250ml bottle at a MRSP of £2.79.

In line with Kikkoman’s strategy of investment in NPD, the brand has introduced Poke Sauce, a dipping or table sauce designed to accompany a variety of fresh foods.

Kikkoman’s Poke Sauce is a delicately spiced blend of authentic flavours including its famed Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce, toasted sesame oil, lemon juice and a hit of hot chilli. The sauce adds a savoury depth of flavour to freshly prepared and cooked ingredients.

Poke Sauce comes from the classic dish, Poke Bowl, a popular starter in the Hawaiian Islands comprising a base of white rice and raw fish (tuna or salmon), topped with a selection of vegetables, and finished with a Poke Sauce. Poke Bowl has now hit the mainstream, driven by foodservice and in particular restaurants and healthy eating outlets adding their own take on Poke Bowl. White rice is often replaced with brown or black rice, quinoa, salads or barley and lentils.

Bing-yu Lee added: “We’re very excited by our latest launch of Poke Sauce. We are confident that the UK consumer will embrace it as demand for international flavours increases. The beauty of Kikkoman Poke Sauce is its convenience and versatility. It brings a subtle new taste to different food groups without being overpowering so the individual taste of the other ingredients comes through. As well as its use with Poke Bowl style dishes it can be used as an everyday dipping sauce. It is also particularly good used as a marinade for fish and vegetables or tofu. We sampled our new Poke Sauce at the BBC Good Food Show in November to great success and we are planning further sampling in 2020.”

Kikkoman Poke Sauce is available in a 250g bottle at an MSP of £2.79.

Following guidelines restricting the use of ‘serve-yourself’ condiment bottles in the wake of Covid-19, Sarson’s has reintroduced convenient and hygienic 7g sachets for operators to use for table service, delivery and take-away.

The company says it has been inundated with calls from operators to provide them with the new hygienic format, bowing to pressure with a short run of sachets.

Minimising contact and containing a perfectly portioned sprinkle, the sachets are, says Bryan Carroll, Sarson’s Sales & Marketing Director, a safe and practical option for front-of-house use.

“Now more than ever, customers need reassurance and familiarity when it comes to eating out and it’s the little changes that can make a big difference to consumer confidence.

“UK Hospitality’s guidelines on restricting the use of ‘serve yourself’ condiments when eating out, while completely understandable and sensible, posed challenges for many operators. We’re proud to have answered the calls for this new format, so we can continue to support operators as they get back to business.”

Sarson’s sachets are available now in 200x7g catering packs.

Helen Hyde, Business Unit Manager, Tabasco, comments: “Both during and after Covid-19 we are expecting operators to be more cautious with using bottles on tables. Our portion packs – available in 3.7ml mini bottles as well as 3ml sachets – are a perfect way to offer a hot pepper sauce as a front of house condiment.”

These single-use formats are ideal for at table dining because they can simply be disposed of or, better still, recycled after use. And consumers can still enjoy the pleasure of customising their dish without the risk of cross-contamination from sharing a communal sauce dispenser or bottle. Tabasco is also seeing fast food and takeaway operators popping the 3ml sachets into their delivery/takeaway boxes.

“With spice and heat still a key trend for foodservice operators, we see Challenge dishes as a great way to engage with guests and create a bit of theatre,” adds Hyde. “This can be done by using any one of the different flavours of Tabasco Brand sauce to create a customisable dish. One of the most recent additions to our range – Tabasco Scorpion sauce – is great for creating a Challenge dish, or maybe even a chicken wing roulette where the coating of one or more of the wings contains a generous splash of Tabasco Scorpion sauce for an extra kick!”

Original Red Tabasco Sauce is still the brand’s bestseller. The brand is also seeing Chipotle Tabasco Sauce increasing in popularity as it’s ideal for adding smokiness to a dish and fits with BBQ flavours.

The newest addition to the range is Tabasco Sriracha Sauce. A Louisiana twist on the classic Thai recipe, this is a blend of all the spicy, sweet, and savoury flavours of Southeast Asian cuisine, with a touch of Tabasco heat. It can be splashed into a stir fry, noodles, or soup, drizzled onto a burger or pizza, or simply used as a dip.

“Consumers are increasingly aware of different types of chillies, their flavour, and their heat levels – think about Ghost Chillies and Carolina Reapers,” continues Hyde. “Differentiated pepper sauces, such as Tabasco Scorpion sauce, work well when it comes to engaging with consumers and offer a great talking point on social media too. With the growing importance of delivery and takeaway, coupled with the expected decline in table-top sauces during Covid, portion packs are key to offering consumers the condiments they know and love.”

Tabasco Brand portion packs can help operators to keep spice and heat as an option in their selection of condiments. And, with fewer bottles on tables, operators can look to add a kick to their menu by adding Tabasco sauce as a trade up option on their menu and use the sauce back of house to add spice to their dishes.

With a range of flavours and pack formats wholesalers can select the most relevant products for their customers. Tabasco’s cases of sachets are packed in bags of 100 x 3ml (10 x 100 in a case) and each bag is labelled and barcoded so that cases can be split, allowing wholesalers to supply smaller, independent outlets.

Fine food distributor RH Amar is offering UK wholesalers an opportunity to tap into the continuing and growing demand for authentic Italian condiments after signing a new partnership earlier this year with Acetum, the world’s leading producer of Balsamic vinegar of Modena.

Offering two brands – Mazzetti and Acetum – the respect for tradition is at the heart of both, with ancient production methods safeguarded alongside cutting-edge production facilities to guarantee the highest quality. Mazzetti L’Originale is produced using exclusive family recipes with a three-tiered offering. :

Everyday Salad are high quality ‘two leaf’ accredited vinegars specifically blended to be the perfect fit for the most popular Balsamic usage occasion.

Premium Signature are premium four and five leaf vinegars aimed at highly engaged ‘foodies’ who are prepared to pay more for quality and taste. Price points range from £6-£14 per bottle.

Making perfect gifts for food lovers, the Special Edition series of DOP Tradizionale 12 – and 25-year aged Balsamic vinegar is produced in small batches using only traditional methods.

“Acetum, meanwhile, offers wholesalers a total vinegar category solution, with a comprehensive range from entry level Balsamic vinegar through to a selection of the most popular speciality vinegars, including wine, sherry, cider and Prosecco vinegars,” explains Sam Higgins, Brand Controller at RH Amar.

“The labels have also been designed to help shoppers understand and navigate the category, featuring flavour profiles and usage recommendations to make the purchasing decision as easy as possible.”

“World food is continuing to make a splash in today’s foodie sphere, with consumers searching far and wide for new dishes, flavours and tastes,” comments Wing Yip Director, Ennevor Yap. “Asian cuisines in particular are showing strong growth – historically, consumers were more familiar with a Westernised take on Oriental cuisine, however with the rise in popularity of scratch cooking and a wealth of recipes more widely available on digital platforms, consumer tastes have changed. Consumers are now looking past traditional favourites to discover exciting and authentic flavours from countries across the whole of Asia.”

Wing Yip, the UK’s leading Oriental supermarket, is home to an extensive range of condiments and sauces from across the Far East, including more than 80 types of chilli sauce alone. Chilli sauce has seen great growth in popularity amongst consumers and is showing no signs of slowing down.

A chilli-based product proving popular is the best-selling Thai Sriracha Chilli Sauce from Wing Yip’s Mai Siam range, which is available in both 200 ml and 2 litre sizes. Stocking two sizes enables restaurant operators to choose whether to use the sauce as a condiment on the table or use it back of house as an ingredient or to finish a dish, whilst offering retailers the chance to tap into the home-cooking trend and offer their customers authentic products. This extremely versatile sauce has become a staple in recipes and can be used in a variety of ways to add authentic Oriental spice to a wealth of dishes.

The whole of Wing Yip’s Mai Siam range is particularly popular as it provides operators with a fast and convenient way to enhance flavour and deliver high quality dishes. The range includes Red, Yellow and Green Thai Curry Pastes, Massaman Curry Paste and Thai Tom Yum Paste in 1kg tubs that serve 50-55 people – all of which are vegan friendly, gluten and MSG free. The Thai pastes in particular enable chefs to create versatile dishes which can be made up of any base, from vegetables, tofu, meat or seafood, creating a wealth of meal options such as curries, stews or soups.

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