When the weather’s cold and miserable, and the skies seem to be permanently grey, it’s time to bring on the sauce. Table sauces and condiments 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 used daily in every household, they’re a tasty sales opportunity year in year out, pitched at affordable prices so they go on selling whatever the economy’s doing.

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. In recent years niche products such as Encona Hot Pepper Sauce have also been gaining ground and moving out of their original strongholds in the ethnic community into the mainstream.

Originally heavily influenced by Caribbean flavours, the appeal of Encona Sauces has been broadened by their successful recent introduction of flavours from around the world.

Traditional English mustard has taken something of a dip in popularity in recent years as our tastes become more cosmopolitan, inspired by foreign travel, restaurants and takeaways, and the omnipresent celebrity cooks and chefs. For younger consumers and others who like American mustard with burgers and hot dogs and want to try something a bit different, French’s, America’s favourite mustard brand, brings the UK a brand new taste sensation in the form of French’s new Smooth & Spicy mustard.

The two groups to target table sauces to are AB’s and 25-34’s. The future growth of the UK’s 25-34 population bodes well for bottled sauces as this age group has the widest repertoire of sauces and is highly willing to try new varieties and flavours.

AB’s are certainly motivated by premium products, dominating consumption for the majority of sauces including balsamic vinegar, mustard and Oriental sauces. These big spenders are also the prime target for brands looking to drive sales by encouraging the use of sauces to customise meals.

Finally, can the hot sauces to be found in our supermarkets get any hotter? The chances are they can. The hot sauce market is something else again. The single malts of the condiment world, these products are sold in small bottles and have a small but growing following of devoted fans, who will happily pay £10 or more on line for a tiny bottle of sauce from the US or Mexico. Tabasco brand pepper sauce, the flagship product for this particular market segment, is rated at 2,140 Scoville units, but according to reliable authorities the hottest sauces in the world go up to 16,000,000 (‘All samples gratefully received’ – Ed.)

The Grocery Trader

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