Condiments and sauces heat up

Mainstream America's Interest in condiments has grown as more consumers look to customize the heat or flavor intensity of the foods they enjoy for flavor adventures, according to "Condiments and Sauces: Culinary Trend Mapping Report" by Packaged Facts and the Center for Culinary Development (CCD). This interest in bigger flavors that condiments and sauces provide will continue to drive the food market. Condiments and sauces are becoming an alluring way of attracting new business, especially in restaurants, where diners can experiment with new flavors at a relatively low cost to operators.


"Condiments and sauces are the fashion accessories of the culinary world, and today more than ever they are a necessary part of the ensemble as diners seek enhanced food experiences and more global flavors, especially in their home kitchens," says Kimberly Egan, CEO of CCD.


Hot trends in the condiments and sauces segment include:


Stage 1: Poutine - French fries, cheese curds and brown gravy is appearing on fine dining menus and peeling out from the food truck scene. The gravy sauce and chewy cheese curds elevates fries to a new fork-required experience. Endless variations are possible, showing that meat and potatoes in snack form will be a winning combination whether in foodservice or the freezer aisle.


Stage 2: Gastrique - The classic French reduction of sugar and vinegar is traditionally used in dishes with meat and fruit to balance out flavors.  Today chefs are using gastriques in new and exciting ways with meat, fish and even dessert. With the time-honored love for the marriage of sweet and sour, there is a huge opportunity for manufacturers to produce bottled gastriques for both cooking and cocktails.


Stage 2: Umami in a Bottle - While being a secret staple in the condiment shelf forever (ketchup is full of umami), it's coming into its own and being called out by name in several new seasoning products and even foodservice chains. Now is the ideal time to develop products and foodservice dishes that call out and underscore the umami experience.


Stage 3: Romesco - A traditional red pepper and ground almond sauce from the Catalan region of Spain, romesco has made its way to Stage 3 by enhancing a number of new chain restaurant dishes. Romesco sauce presents a great opportunity for restaurateurs and food manufacturers to capitalize on its Spanish global heritage and emphasize its intense rich flavor in dips, sauces, marinades and more.


Stage 4: Sriracha - A fiery sauce inspired by traditional Southeast Asian cuisines, sriracha has been hiding in restaurant kitchens for years. Consumers craving heat and spice have since flocked to the stuff, turning it into a cult favorite. The passionate following from chefs and culinary consumers combined with Gen Y interest in global cuisines and extreme flavors set up sriracha for continued market growth and popularity, whether in new variations on the original condiment or sriracha-enhanced products.


Stage 5: Aioli - The versatile French-inspired condiment (basically garlic mayonnaise) has infiltrated the U.S. market from fine dining to the Golden Arches. The ability to add a variety of non-garlic flavors (lemon, basil, chipotle, parsley, harissa and avocado) while also delivering tasty, creamy richness, drives home aioli's potential for new dips, spreads, condiments and accompaniments.