From ketchup to salsa to sriracha, the U.S. market for condiments and sauces is full of the familiar, the foreign and the fantastic, according to David Sprinkle, research director at Packaged Facts (www.packagedfacts.com), Rockville, Md. Consumer demand for these products and the flavors they impart helped the category reach $24 billion in 2016, after rising at an annual rate of 2.3 percent over the preceding five years. Comparable sales growth is anticipated year-over-year through 2021 despite challenges to the industry due to the widespread shift toward healthier living.
Marketing products as certified organic or carrying “free-from” labels has become part of several trends that will help keep condiments and sauces popular with consumers. Another is flavor adventure. Ongoing multicultural changes in the U.S. led to tremendous growth in the market for hot sauce from 2011 through 2016. As adventurous millennials sought out new flavors, spicy foods and sauces became incredibly popular. The craving for flavor continues and is a driver of innovation.
Expect to see mature condiments with established recipes expand with flavorful twists. For instance, many mayonnaise brands now offer wasabi, chipotle, pesto, garlic, horseradish and ginger flavors, among others, says Sprinkle. Ketchup varieties include chipotle, ghost pepper, sriracha and sun-dried tomato, while mustard might feature garlic, bleu cheese, oregano or, of all things, “everything bagel” flavors.
Organic, non-GMO and gluten-free claims are also gaining traction. And, as consumers show more interest in environmental sustainability and ethical business practices, companies are increasingly selling a story with their products. They are discussing the sourcing of ingredients and the artisan craft used in product manufacturing.
“The trend toward healthy eating has created challenges for marketers of condiments and sauces, as consumer perception is that they are unnecessary, unhealthy additions to many foods. In response, marketers are offering organic products and low-sodium or low-sugar varieties to support restrictive diets,” says David Sprinkle, Packaged Facts.
On the Shelf
KPOP Sauce, kpopfoods.com
It all starts with Theo Lee’s grandmother’s gochujang sauce. Lee is the co-founder of KPOP Foods, a new Korean food company focused on taking Korean food mainstream. He and Mike Kim developed KPOP Sauce with funds from Kickstarter. The new chili sauce is a medley of sweet, tangy and spicy flavors that functions as a marinade or glaze for meats and vegetables; an ingredient in dips, sauces and salad dressings; and as a go-to condiment on eggs, burritos, pizza and more.
Blackberry Patch Condiments, www.blackberrypatch.com
Blackberry Patch has partnered with Time Inc.’s Southern Living brand to bring to market a collection of fruit-forward artisanal condiments. The initial rollout includes fruit butters, salsas and syrups. “Our recipes and products have a just-like-mother-made-it good taste,” says Randy Harvey, president of Blackberry Patch, a Georgia-based company that will also soon be phasing in organic three-ingredient fruit syrups in blueberry, raspberry and strawberry flavors. These syrups received non-GMO certification in 2017.
Teriacha sauce, www.teriacha.com
New Teriacha sauce blends teriyaki and sriracha into three flavors: classic original, smoky chipotle and zesty southwest. The last gets a kick from lime juice and cumin. The condiments come in easy-to-squeeze plastic bottles and do not require refrigeration. “Our customers’ favorite part of Teriacha is its versatility,” says Chad Manciagli, founder. “They drizzle it on pizza, pour into stir fry, glaze chicken wings, serve as dip for veggies or French fries, and even add it to a bloody mary.”