|Title:||United Kingdom retail sales of table sauces by type in pounds sterling, kilograms, and percent change for the year ended June 10, 2012|
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Table sauces: XX w/e XX June 2012
VALUE VOLUME [pounds sterling] m y-o-y % kg(m) y-o-y %
Tomato XXX.X X.X XX.X X.X
Other thick XX.X X.X XX.X X.X
Brown XX.X X.X XX.X -X.X
Soy XX.X XX.X X.X X.X
Other thin XX.X XX.X X.X X.X
Worcester XX.X X.X X.X -X.X
TOTAL XXX.X X.X XXX.X X.X
Britain has had a love affair with hot food for years. From the Victorians' penchant for devilled kidneys to our seemingly national obsession today with curries, the British palate has consistently leant towards the spicy. But in the last few years our taste for the hot stuff has shot through the roof, making hot sauces one of the fastest-growing sub-categories in the sauce market.
In the past year, sauce suppliers have unleashed a raft of spicy variants, fuelling value sales growth of XX.X% and volume growth of XX% - significantly ahead of the overall table sauce category, which is up X.X% in value and X.X% in volume [Kantar Worldpanel XX w/e XX June 2012].
And thanks to the growing popularity of cuisines such as Caribbean, Thai and Mexican, a new flavour dimension has been added to proceedings. So how much hotter can the hot sauces sector - and indeed, the wider sauces & condiments category - get?
According to Geeta's Foods director Anita Samtani, the willingness of Brits to experiment with new strengths of hot sauce has been driven by factors such as international travel, immigration and the growing presence of international restaurant chains and food, with dishes once considered exotic now accepted as the norm.
"Indian food has become mainstream fare now and the frequency of the eating occasion has widened the heat palate of most Brits, who can now eat much hotter foods than before," says Samtani. "In view of this, the NPD trend is to develop hotter products rather than ranges with milder flavours,"
It's a view supported by Amy Woodbridge, senior brand manager at Bespoke Foods, which produces Frank's Red Hot sauce. "British palates are evolving, with more consumers keen to try new strengths of hot sauce. There is certainly a novelty factor in terms of the demand for increasingly hot sauces. However, there is also a growing market for hot sauces in general, with consumers making choices led by flavour as well as heat."
In March, Enco Products launched Encona West Indian Extra Hot Pepper Sauce--its hottest-ever SKU--to cash in on this trend. "This is not for the faint-hearted," cautions Encona Sauces brand manager Giuseppe Vullo. "Fans have been clamouring for some time for us to take the heat to a new level and we've responded with a really distinctive, spicy sauce that features some of the hottest peppers in the world."
That's not to say everyone is going extrahot. There's also been a discernible trend of brands developing hot sauces that "need not blow away your taste buds like a fiery vindaloo", says Scott Dixon, brand manager at Flava-it brand owner MRC.
"What we've become accustomed to in the UK is a tiered and clearly labelled gradient of heat," he says. "Nando's was one of the first--even its garlic sauce has a kick--but other brands such as Old El Paso and Flava-it have begun to place their flavours on an index so consumers can purchase according to their tastes, from mild to firecracker hot."
All About Food (AAF), which produces sauces and condiments under licence from high-street restaurant brands, launched a range of Mexican sauces with Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers in April. It also rolled out two milder variants of its Nando's sauces this year to attract consumers seeking the flavour of hot sauce without the heat, says AAF marketing manager James Beaumont.
"Hot sauces are opening up the category to both ends of the spectrum. There is an influx of extremely hot sauces available on the market, but the category is becoming more accessible to non-heat lovers, with brands offering milder variants," he adds.
Old El Paso's customer marketing manager Venu Raavi agrees. The company, which launched squeezy variants of its Mexican condiments earlier this year, offers tiered heat in its meal kit range and Raavi promises further NPD along these lines. "Consumers have become more adventurous, but rather than concentrating on spice they're moving to more of an emphasis on flavour," he maintains. "Previously it was hot sauce, but now it's hot sauce with some flavour in it."
Varied and increasingly sophisticated consumer tastes are also driving growth in the barbecue sauces market. Despite poor weather over spring and summer, it has enjoyed an increase in value sales of X.X%, with volumes up X.X% [Kantar Worldpanel].
The impact of the bad weather was offset by the summer's high-profile events, as well as by the increasing versatility of hot sauces, says Vicki Rusz, product marketing manager for Budweiser at RH Amar. "Consumers are not just using barbecue sauces and marinades for barbecues--they're using them as table sauces to give their dinners a summery feel even if they can't be outside."
There's been a lot of innovation in barbecue sauces over the past year, from small companies but also from the big sauce brands, which have been doing their bit to grow category sales through innovative new flavour launches. In addition to a limited-edition Heinz Tomato Ketchup blended with Indian spices, launched in March, Heinz also rolled out a new range of barbecue sauces in the form of Heinz Classic Barbecue and Heinz Sticky Barbecue. And rival Unilever expanded its 'Hint of Hellmann's mayonnaise range with new Spark of Chilli and Wasabi variants.
"Barbecue has diversified, but nowhere near as much as it has in the USA where they have fruit flavours and lots of variants like honey, as well as different degrees of heat," says Atlantic Foods purchasing and marketing director Nigel Parkes.
The sheer breadth of products available in the US, where barbecuing is in the DNA, highlights the potential for NPD this side of the pond, he adds. "If you look at a fixture in a US supermarket, you will probably see about XX different variants of barbecue sauce."
The inference is that NPD has not been as innovative as it could be in the UK. Much the same could be said of NPD at the premium end of the condiments market, argue some industry experts. "Too many predictable products have been introduced to the market that appear premium but don't really interest or inspire customers," believes Clippy McKenna, founder of Clippy's. "Products that have roasted peppers or balsamic vinegar flavours may tick the box for many retailers creating a premium tier, but they aren't pushing the boundaries or giving consumers what they really want."
To address this, Clippy's has launched flavour combinations such as Apple & Figgy Chilli Relish, Apple, Garlic & Thyme Jelly and Marma Chilli, a chilli marmalade. "Without being bold with new products, the category won't move forward," says McKenna.
Some sub-categories clearly need the incremental growth NPD offers more than others. Although soy and tomato sauces have been done well over the past year, brown sauce volume sales have slumped X.X%, and volume sales of Worcester sauce are down X.X% .
The picture is similarly mixed for condiments. Although the overall category posted value sales growth of X.X%--thanks chiefly to a strong showing from mustard (up X.X% in value)--volumes have slipped X.X% due to a X.X% slump in vinegar sales and a X.X% fall I in volume sales of condiment sauces such as mayonnaise [Kantar Worldpanel]. Indeed, it appears value sales of condiments only increased as a result of price rises.
The best way to reinvigorate volume sales is through exciting NPD with an overseas twist, believes Geraldine Marks, licensed brands manager at Baxters Food Group, which sells Jack Daniel's barbecue sauces. She anticipates an influx of world flavours hitting the sauce market in 2013--with Brazilian influences set to stand out. "Lesser-known American flavours may also make an appearance on the fixture as British consumers catch up to their American counterparts in barbecue expertise," she adds.
Another region hotly tipped to cash in on the growing demand for hotter flavours is the Caribbean. Tropical Sun Foods launched Red and Yellow Scotch Bonnet pepper sauces this summer and brand chief Kapil Wadhwani promises further flavour innovation in the future as Caribbean spices continue to gain mainstream acceptance.
"Caribbean flavours are exploding because consumers are keen to try new flavours and sensations," says Wadhwani. "The millennial generation - born between 1980 and 2000--is driving the demand for tropical flavours with bolder and spicier tastes."
With a growing number of consumers looking to spice up their lives, there's plenty of heat in the sauces market yet.
TOP XX BESTSELLERS
Sauces & condiments: XX w/e X June 2012
SALES CHANGE [pounds sterling] m y-o-y %
Own label XXX.X X.X Heinz XXX.X X.X Hellmann's XXX.X X.X HP XX.X X.X Colman's XX.X X.X Branston XX.X -X.X Blue Dragon XX.X -X.X Haywards XX.X -X.X Baxters XX.X -X.X Lea & Perrins XX.X X.X
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