The importance of togetherness has increased during and post lockdown. This in turn has driven more family meal occasions which world food, including Mexican, is perfectly positioned for.

In fact, Mexican is 32% more likely to feature in together time evening meals (Kantar).

Old El Paso, the UK’s number one brand in World Food (Nielsen) is fun, tasty, informal, and designed for sharing – ideal for connection. The brand remains strongly associated with triggers related to shared moments with friends and family (ibid).

“Consumers have been opting for Oriental food,” comments Aditi Hilgers, Marketing Manager, Old El Paso. “We’ve seen it officially overtaken Italian, which is seeing a decline, possibly because Italian food is largely considered a carb heavy meal offering.”

Oriental and Mexican grew the most over the last year and this is likely to be because we are seeing growth come through foods that are light and flavoursome and either naturally implement an abundance of vegetables or can incorporate them easily and conveniently.

“Lockdown certainly had an impact on the types of food people were eating,” adds Hilgers. “Both nostalgia and the desire to travel will have influenced shopping lists. This, plus the resurgence of home cooking, saw consumers both replicating dishes they have eaten abroad on their travels and experimenting with World Food inspired dishes from the comfort of their own home in customisable ways.”

Food and flavour remain among the biggest reasons for travel, and cuisines that deliver in these areas will have seen increased sales. With all of the recent restrictions, people are seeking new solutions to expand their usual repertoire. IGD data reveals 39% of shoppers are cooking new and different meals more frequently, with world foods fuelling these new skills and behaviours. The category is set to continue to inspire and drive excitement in the next year, and Old El Paso is particularly well placed to capitalise on this trend.

Last year the Old El Paso Tortilla Pockets range was extended with a new Smoky BBQ variant. The product combines the innovative first-to-market sealed bottom wraps with the brand’s smoky BBQ flavour profile, the number one in Mexican (Nielsen).

Old El Paso Tortilla Pockets range hit £8.8M RSV sales in its first 18 months (Nielsen). Within one month of its launch activation, Tortilla Pockets became the third biggest kit in the UK (after Old El Paso Smoky BBQ Fajita Kit and Old El Paso Cheesy Enchilada Kit) and the seventh biggest SKU in Total Mexican, while the standalone eight-pack of carriers are the fourth biggest carrier (Nielsen).

“Consumers are using Pockets for more than just a Mexican meal, and it’s this versatility of usage that is one of the key reasons why they’re 60% incremental to the category,” says Hilgers. “Interestingly, we also saw that 64% of baskets with Kids Yogurt contained Old El Paso Tortilla Pockets too, showcasing the potential in the lunchbox aperture.”

In December 2021 Old El Paso refreshed its limited-edition range with a first-to-market Veggie Fajita Kit that is vegan friendly.

The Old El Paso Veggie Fajita Kit includes eight soft flour tortillas and a seasoning mix designed to be roasted with vegetables such as sweet potato, carrot, and courgette. The pack also includes an additional spice mix to create a sauce that complements the flavour profile of the veggies.

The Kit will help retailers tap into increased demand for easy, plant-based meal solutions.

“We’re thrilled to give our customers a fresh and exciting way to enjoy their Fajitas and increase their veggie intake, but also ensure everyone at the table can enjoy Mexican,” continues Hilgers. “There’s nothing like this product on the UK market and that’s what our limited-edition strategy is all about – modernising Mexican and opening palettes to newer flavours and food experiences, all wrapped up in a super convenient kit.” Bing-yu Lee, Manager of Kikkoman UK, comments: “Over the last few years, we’ve seen many more Japanese ingredients entering our culinary vocabulary from miso paste to yuzu and mirin, demonstrating our new found interest in Japanese cuisine. All this thanks to the influence of chefs and the media plus our insatiable appetite for new flavours. But firmly in the mainstream we have soy sauce and teriyaki marinade adding a Japanese twist to everyday foods.”

Fusing exotic ingredients with the more familiar encourages experimentation while extending the usage of international flavours. This is reflected in the buoyant Shoyu (Japanese) soy sauce market with Kikkoman performing particularly well in the sector. While it started life in the UK, mostly as an accompaniment to sushi, it is now widely used to enhance the flavour of everyday foods. Soy sauce sales rocketed during the Covid pandemic with Kikkoman the strongest performing brand, demonstrating consumers’ willingness to trade up. It now has a 32.5% share of the Total Soy Sauce market, up 15% by value year on year, with the highest penetration coming from the 150ml format.

“During the pandemic we have witnessed a shift in consumer behaviour towards more adventurous cooking and with that a confidence in trying new and exotic flavours,” adds Lee. “More than ever, we are embracing international cuisines with new tastes coming from different parts of Asia including Korea and Japan. With new cuisines comes new sauces or a greater appetite and confidence to try exotic sauces that have been with us for a while. We have fallen in love with spice so offering foods that add a kick to what is otherwise bland food makes sense.”

Using a good teriyaki sauce can transform the taste of any meat or vegetable dish especially if the meat is marinated in teriyaki for a few hours then cooked.

“Retailers need to be aware of increasing numbers of vegetarians/vegans, those with a sensitivity to gluten, as well as those on a strict low sodium diet or who are actively choosing a low sodium diet as a lifestyle choice,” says Lee.

Kikkoman says consumers shouldn’t have to lose out on flavour or lower grade ingredients because of a wheat intolerance. Just like the original Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce, its Tamari Gluten-Free variant is also naturally brewed and uses natural ingredients only, offering a premium soy sauce with the same rich, savoury taste and flavour.

Kikkoman Less Salt Soy Sauces is widely available and uses a special fermentation process which keeps all the unique flavour and aroma of Kikkoman’s original naturally brewed soy sauce but contains 43% less salt. All Kikkoman Soy Sauces are certified vegan.

Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce 150ml Dispenser is the brand’s best-selling SKU, accounting for over 40% of unit sales and up 14% yoy. Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce 250ml is the second-best seller up 7.7% yoy followed closely by Kikkoman Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce, up 19.8% yoy (IRI to 17.07.21)

“The best advice is to stick with the brands that are guaranteed to move quickly, those that have a strong growth record and where there is major support behind the brand,” suggests Lee.

Chinese New Year starts on 1 February 2022 and marks the biggest marketing opportunity in the Kikkoman calendar. Kikkoman is the only soy sauce brand to consistently support Chinese New Year with major advertising and promotional investment and this year is no exception.

A new hard-hitting campaign is about reinforcing Kikkoman as a leader among soy sauce brands.

A new audio advertising campaign will kick off on 19 January 2022 with national radio advertising on key stations such as Heart, Virgin, Smooth and Magic as well as ads placed around targeted podcasts where food is a central theme. The audio campaign will reach over 3 million ABC1 25-54 year-old adults and deliver 40 million impacts.

In addition, a new 30 second digital ad with the strapline ‘Give Food a KIKK’ will run across YouTube, quality online news publishing sites including the Guardian and The Telegraph, as well as platforms with a core foodie audience such as BBC Good Food and delicious.

In addition there will be retailer specific activity and a 25% off promotion running throughout the retail network.

“It would be great to see retailers running more promotions around big dates in the calendar such as Chinese New Year, ensuring relevant brands have a big on and off-shelf presence,” adds Lee.

Kikkoman is giving a new look to its Tamari range. The products will carry blue labelling and caps to harmonise the look of the range following the launch of its Tamari 150ml dispenser with a blue cap last year. Now all the Kikkoman Tamari products will appear in a striking blue label and blue cap enabling easy differentiation between its standard soy sauce which is in red and its Less Salt range which is in green.

Kikkoman Tamari has a commanding share of the gluten-free soy sauce sector at 67.4%, up 4% year on year by value and 7.3% in unit sales. Over the last few years Tamari Gluten-Free Soy Sauce has been steadily increasing its share of the total soy sauce market with latest data showing it is now at 9%.

More and more of us are choosing a gluten free diet driven by an increase in the number of people with food allergies and those of us who opt to go gluten free as a lifestyle choice. Kikkoman, which has been at the forefront of NPD for some years, says consumers shouldn’t have to lose out on flavour or lower grade ingredients because of a wheat intolerance or coeliac disease. Just like the original Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce, its Tamari Gluten-Free variant is also naturally brewed and uses just four simple ingredients – water, soybeans, salt and spirit vinegar, offering a premium soy sauce with the same rich, savoury taste and flavour.

Lee says: “We wanted to harmonise the look of our Tamari Gluten-Free Soy Sauce range and provide standout from our other ranges so consumers can easily identify our Tamari from the rest of our products. We think the blue labels will be easy to spot in store and will look attractive on-shelf alongside our core and Less Salt ranges.

“Our gluten-free Tamari Soy Sauce is made to the age-old brewing process to preserve and enhance the unique flavours consumers come to expect from the Kikkoman family of products. The success of our Tamari Gluten-Free Soy Sauce is evidence of the growing demand from consumers for a wheat-free alternative. We are confident that it will continue its strong performance, adding incremental growth to the brand and the category.”

Andrey Sokirkin, brand director for cooking sauces and accompaniments at Premier Foods, comments: “Last year, more consumers were cooking at home more regularly. This resulted in impressive growth of +23.7% (IRI) for the cooking sauces and meal accompaniments category, owing to existing shoppers purchasing these types of products more frequently, but also a large number of new consumers buying into the category and our brands. Sharwood’s had an additional 3.8m shoppers in 2020 versus the previous year, with 1.3m of these under the age of 45 (Kantar) as we began attracting a younger audience.”

New to the brand’s cooking sauces portfolio is Sharwood’s Deliciously Vegan Indian sauces. Allowing shoppers to conveniently and affordably make vegan curries at home, the range comprises the most popular Indian sauce flavours – Tikka Masala and Korma. It is important for these options to be made available across all categories, especially as the number of people following a vegan diet increased by 40% in 2020. Sharwood’s Deliciously Vegan Indian Sauces will allow retailers to tap into the growing opportunity by appealing to those with flexitarian diets.

The two most prominent cuisines that the Loyd Grossman brand covers, and is traditionally known for, are Italian and Indian. Despite other cuisine types growing in popularity as people explore different flavours, we have seen strong brand growth across each of those areas. This can largely be attributed to many consumers on the lookout for well known, trusted brands that offer quality products. At a time when people have wanted to reward and treat themselves and their loved ones with premium products, Loyd Grossman has delivered the consistent results and great taste that they seeking.

This year, Premier Foods is aiming to drive additional sales by offering shoppers a convenient solution to enjoy a delicious plant-based Bolognese meal option with the launch of Loyd Grossman Plant-Based Bolognese sauces. Available in two flavours – Loyd Grossman Plant-Based Bolognese sauce with Lentils is a blend of mushrooms, baby spinach leaves and juicy sun-ripened tomatoes, while the Loyd Grossman Plant-Based Bolognese sauce with Quinoa is a tasty mix of sweet peppers, courgettes, juicy tomatoes and a splash of red wine. The meals can be enjoyed simply by heating the Loyd Grossman sauce and adding it to cooked pasta, saving both time and money by eliminating the need for additional ingredients, without having to compromise on taste.

The Loyd Grossman Pizza Range marries the two key trends we’ve seen in the category – tapping into the increased popularity of home cooking as well as meeting shoppers’ desire to buy healthier products. Comprising three SKUs – No Added Sugar Pizza Sauce, Flamed Baked Pizza Bases and Italian Grated Cheese – the range gives consumers all the ingredients they need to make healthier pizzas at home, while still giving them the freedom to customise as well with different toppings.

Health continues to be high on the agenda for many shoppers, and Premier Foods is keen to continue expanding on the choice offered by Sharwood’s to the more health-conscious consumer in the cooking sauce aisle. Last year, Premier Foods introduced reduced sugar versions of some of the most popular Sharwood’s stir fry sauces to help retailers cater for this growing demand. The three-strong sachet range comprises Sweet & Sour, Sweet Chilli & Garlic and Chow Mein, now with 30% less sugar than the category average.

“As people have had fewer opportunities to go out socially and be active, the demand for options with reduced levels of sugar or fat has increased significantly,” adds Sokirkin. “Shoppers have been on the lookout for healthier ways to enjoy their favourite cuisines, such as Indian, Italian and Chinese, which is something our range of sauces and accompaniments has been able to deliver on.”


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