Condiments Gain Increasing Attention from Food Processors

Jan. 19, 2005
It's time for manufacturers to loudly tout mustard's fat-free, cholesterol-free attributes.

Condiments have been getting increased attention from food processors over the past two years. Condiments are savory, piquant, spicy or salty accompaniments to give relish to food and gratify the taste; a pungent and appetizing substance, such as pepper or mustard. The overall category was $4.794 billion for the 52 weeks ending June 13, 2004, up 21.3 percent over the previous year, according to Information Resources Inc.

Product introductions are climbing, too, from 83 in 2002 to 102 in 2003 to 106 last year, according to Mintel International Group, Chicago.

Ketchup and mustard are the most popular condiments, but also the flattest segments in the category. Their sales increased just 0.16 percent in the 52 weeks ending June 13, 2004, but they account for a substantial $740 million.

While ketchup outsells mustard by a wide margin, the mellow yellow (to brown) condiment is used frequently in foodservice since its distinctive flavor compliments hot dogs, curry, honey, fruit, pork, beef, chicken, potatoes and snack foods such as pretzels.

Retail mustard, on the other hand, is a relatively small market at about $300 million. French’s, from U.K.-based Reckitt Benckiser Plc (with U.S. headquarters in Springfield, Mo.), is the No. 1 brand with 32.1 percent market share. French’s celebrated it’s 100th birthday last year. Private label is in the No. 2 position at 18.3 percent, followed by Parsippany, N.J.-based Nabisco’s Grey Poupon at 14.9 percent and Omaha-based ConAgra’s Gulden’s at 6.8 percent. Another player includes Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based Hellmann’s/Best Foods, which focuses on dipping sauces, an excellent idea since some 40 percent of Americans dip into various flavors at least once a week.

Per capita consumption of mustard is about 12 oz. annually – a little apparently goes a long way. Adding innovation to the category, Reckitt Benckiser devised a flip-tip cap design for bottles of its French’s mustard, solving the problem of product build-up on the cap, which consumers find annoying with some squeezable bottles of mustard. The cap draws the unused mustard back into the bottle for a clean pour the next time around.

Several new mustards debuted last year. Plochman introduced Kosciusko Spicy Brown Beer Mustard, which contains 45 percent lager – a beer lover’s dream. Delicae Gourmet Key Lime Macadamia Mustard, a balance of traditional mustard flavors with the addition of key lime and macadamia nuts, came from Delicae Gourmet, Tarpon Springs, Fla. It takes advantage of the popularity of both lime flavor and nuts, plus it’s a good choice for those on a low-carb diet.

Anna Mae’s Smoky Mustard, from Robert Rothschild Farm, Urbana, Ohio, won an award last year from the National Assn. for Specialty Food Trade. Annie’s Naturals, North Calais, Vt., expanded its line of mustard with one of the hottest trend categories, organic,  with the introduction of Organic Dijon Mustard and Organic Yellow Mustard. And d’Oni Enterprises Specialty Sauces, Sherman Oaks, Calif., boldly introduced Bold as Love Honey Habanero mustard.

Sales also are being buoyed by some health news. Mustard is naturally fat- and cholesterol-free, some studies claim it lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol and it’s a pathogen killer.

It’s notable that a gram of mustard flour contains just 4.3 calories, and leaf mustard contains calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin B. According to the “Good Cook’s Book of Mustard,” it stimulates appetite and digestion, clears nasal passages much the same as chilis do, is believed to cure colds, increases blood circulation – hence its use as mustard plaster – and mustard flour sprinkled in your socks is said to save your toes from frostbite.

True aficionados can dabble those healthy toes in one or more of 800 varieties of prepared mustards from the Mount Hereby Mustard Museum and Gourmet Foods Emporium, Mount Horeb, Wis., where they take mustard very seriously ( Mustard varieties include Sweet Hot, Fruit, Herb & Veggie, Garlic, Horseradish, Hot Pepper, Spirit (with alcohol), American & Deli, Exotic, French and English mustards. You can also take classes at Poupon U, where you can earn your D.D.S. (Doctor of Diddley Squat) degree, or purchase a hot dog and mustard tie for $18.

America’s favorite is yellow mustard. French’s, the most famous yellow mustard, was originated by George J. French from white mustard seeds, turmeric – a powdered root of a tropical plant that gives mustard its bright yellow color -- salt, spices, natural flavoring, vinegar and water. He suspected that Americans were not buying mustard because they did not like its heat, and his success suggests that he was right. First sold in 1904 in the same year that hot dogs were introduced at the St. Louis World’s Fair, hot dogs and mustard became synonymous and are classic American fare.

Retail varieties of French’s mustard today include: Classic Yellow, Honey Dijon, Bold ‘n Spicy Brown, Sweet ’n Zesty, Sweet ’n Tangy Honey, and Creamy Dijon GourMayo, mayonnaise with a mustard twist.

“Growth of private label and fewer glass containers are major trends in mustard,” says Matthew Carroll, market research analyst, Business Trend Analysts Inc., Commack, N.Y., who authored the “2004-05 Market for Salad Dressings, Sauces and Condiments” report. “Flavored and spicier mustards and innovation in packaging – squeezable containers and easy-open tops – will drive the category.”

Speaking of packaging convenience, American Roland Food Corp., New York, introduced Roland Kobe Style Mustard, packaged in a 1.52-oz. tube – just put it in your desk drawer and you’ll be able to squeeze it on your lunch sandwich without a lot of fuss. And Unilever’s Best Foods unit brought out the best with its Squeezable Hellmann’s Dippin’ Sauce Honey Mustard Madness in an upside down container.

Garlic, cracked peppercorns, caramelized onions, Chipotle, Habanero or Serrano peppers, Tabasco, Wasabi and curry are being used in new products to give mustard a bite. Paprika, horseradish, beer, Chardonnay, Champagne and Tequila give it a kick. Chocolate-orange, cranberry, Bing cherries, lemon-vanilla, pineapple, mango, sun-dried tomatoes, lavender, seaweed, maple and/or espresso are ingredients that take mustard to new levels.

“Some of the trends we’re seeing in the category are mustards with Wasabi, berry flavors and more alcohol-flavored products,” says Tom Vierhile, executive editor of ProductScan Online, from Marketing Intelligence Service, Naples, N.Y. ProductScan tracked 137 new mustard products last year in the U.S. and Canada, up from 47 in 2003.

Mustard in both dried and prepared varieties provides tremendous flavor and appeals to Hispanic and Asian consumers, who use it as an ingredient in their home cooking.

For those who prefer a stronger kick, the city of Dijon in France has been the home of fine mustards since the 13th century. In 1777, Monsieur Grey, who had the recipe, and Monsieur Poupon, who had the cash, formed a partnership to make the strongest mustard available. The result was Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard.

The Nabisco Foods unit of Kraft, which holds a license from Grey Poupon, is the only manufacturer outside of France allowed to use the term Dijon. This type of mustard must contain brown or black mustard seeds. Although not quite as strong as the French-made Grey Poupon, Nabisco’s American version packs a fine flavor wallop and is a handy ingredient for the home cook. Today, Kraft Foods offers several retail varieties including: Grey Poupon Dijon, Honey, Deli, Country Dijon and Spicy Brown Mustard.

Mustard ABCs

A plant, mustard belongs to the same family as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, kale and kohlrabi. It’s believed the name comes from a Roman mixture of crushed mustard seed and must (unfermented grape juice), which was called mustum ardens or "burning wine." Likewise, the French word moutarde comes from a contraction of French words moust ("must") and a form of ardent ("hot" or "fiery").

White mustard seeds are much larger than the brown variety but a lot less pungent. White seeds are used in American-style mustards, which tend to be mild. White and brown seeds are blended to make English mustard. Brown seeds are used for pickling and as a seasoning, and are the main ingredient in European and Chinese mustards, which are zesty and flavorful.

The French are famous for their tangy Dijon mustard, made with brown or black seeds. German prepared mustards can range from very hot to sweet and mild. And Chinese mustards are usually the hottest and most pungent of the prepared mustards.

Mustard seeds are sold whole, ground into powder or processed further into prepared mustard – powdered mustard combined with seasonings and a liquid such as water, vinegar, wine beer or must. American-style prepared mustard is a mild mixture made from the less-pungent white seed, flavored with sugar, vinegar and turmeric. Powdered mustard is simply finely ground mustard seed.

“There are three types of mustard: yellow (white), brown and oriental,” according to Michael Boland of the Ag Marketing Resource Center, Kansas State University. “Mustard seed is primarily used in the food or condiment industries in the form of either seed or oil. Yellow is the mildest of the three and has lower oil content. It’s most commonly used to produce mild prepared mustard for table use, but is also used as dry mustard seasoning in mayonnaise, salad dressings and sauces. The flour made from yellow mustard is also an excellent emulsifying agent and stabilizer for prepared meats. Brown and oriental are primarily used for hot table mustard and for oil spices.”

It’s the ingredients used to flavor the mustard paste or sauce that gives mustard its many nuances. Variations in mustard include mild and hot, coarse-ground or smooth. It’s the choice of liquids 'from apple cider vinegar and lemon juice to wine and beer' flavoring agents from herbs, spices and aromatics and the degree of milling that determines the subtle variations in mustard's taste and texture.

Nearly all mustards are finished with the addition of salt, which both helps preserve the flavors and, because salt melts slowly on the tongue, brings them together in a harmonious finish on the palate.

The characteristic quality of mustard is its sharp, bright heat, an element that can be released simply by chewing the raw seed. This sensation is the result of a chemical reaction that occurs when the outer husk of the mustard seed is shattered and its cellular structure broken.

With white mustard, the burning sensation is felt only on the tongue. With brown and black mustards, there is also a sense of vaporization that affects the eyes, nose, and sinuses in much the same way as the Japanese horseradish wasabi.

Top Mustard Vendors
(for year ended
Dec. 26, 2004)
Dollar Sales
Percent Change
(vs. year ago)
Market Share
Reckitt Benckiser




Private Label




Kraft Foods




ConAgra Inc.




Plochman Inc.




Best Foods




Beaverton Foods




Moutardes Maille Societe




Romanoff Foods Inc.




Woeber Mustard Mfg.




Total Dollar Sales $287,460,100


Top Mustard Brands Dollar Sales
Percent Change
(vs. year ago)
Market Share




Private Label




Grey Poupon
















Hellmann’s Dijonnaise












Jack Daniels




Source: Information Resources Inc. (U.S. supermarkets only)

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