Trial and error is how many sauces are created. Culinary professionals add layers of flavor, often with a kick of heat, to take today’s consumers on the flavor adventure they crave. They do this increasingly while being mindful of nutrition and ingredient statements.
“One of the easiest ways for chefs to address consumer demand for variety is with sauces,” said Kate Leahy, spokesperson for Sunsweet Ingredients.
Healthy options drive growth
Consumer demand for condiment and cooking sauces helped the market reach $24 billion in sales in 2016, according to a report by market research firm Packaged Facts. Annual retail sales have been growing at a rate of about 2 percent, and comparable growth is anticipated through 2021.
“Sauce formulators need to be aware that, while consumers want to explore ethnic cuisines and flavor fusions, they are also looking to make better-for-you dietary choices,” Leahy said.
Premiumization in terms of flavor profiles, ingredient sourcing and authentic recipes is driving growth of the shelf-stable sauce category. Such specialty sauces represent about 20 percent of the category, and they are expected to continue to grow about 5 percent annually in dollar sales, according to the Specialty Foods Association. Cooking sauces, flavored mayonnaise and hot sauces contribute the most to sales, with cooking sauces, which provide consumers kitchen shortcuts, accounting for about 40 percent of total sales. Not surprisingly, millennials’ affinity for convenient fresh meals is driving innovation and category growth.