Saucy sales

Uncle Ben’s sauces remain Ireland’s number one brand leader within the ethnic food category
Uncle Ben’s sauces remain Ireland’s number one brand leader within the ethnic food category

Innovations in flavour and format are allowing consumers to make masterpieces out of everyday mealtimes, for a fraction of the price they'd pay dining out


Brand Central

7 September 2011

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cookingsaucesThe cooking sauces market has vastly expanded in recent years as consumers’ tastes become more adventurous; boosted by their travels abroad. Reflecting Irish trends, market analyst Mintel has reported that the cooking sauces market has experienced sales growth of 31% between 2005 and 2010 in the UK. Around three quarters of consumer use cooking sauces, with cook-in sauces the most popular, used by four fifths of consumers during 2010.

Furthermore, innovation has focused on flavours and formats, accommodating changing consumer needs and tastes. Such NPD has encouraged consumers to add to their repertoire of sauces and increase usage occasions. This is certainly the case in the dry sauces sector, which is worth €19.4 million MAT and is up 7.4% in value (Source: AC Nielsen Scantrack (MAT to 10 July 2011).

A cheaper and healthier alternative

According to Mintel, one way in which brands can continue to drive consumption is by positioning cooking sauces as a cheaper and healthier alternative to a takeaway. Almost three in four (74%) of consumers agree that cooking sauces are a cheaper option, while over half (52%) agree that they are a healthier choice.

The health credentials of the cooking sauces they use at family mealtimes is another important consideration for many consumers. Salt content is a key a concern for two fifths (41%) of consumers, especially those aged 55+. Lower salt varieties or reductions in salt, could be more widely adopted by the major players in order to appeal to this group, advises Mintel. Brands and manufacturers are also reportedly seeking to cater for the forecast rise in one-person households by introducing smaller and one serve formats. With penetration lower among smaller households, this is helping to both introduce new consumers to the category and meet these consumers’ ongoing needs.  

Lack of time is a barrier to cooking from scratch for many consumers and these consumers would respond well to products and campaigns that highlight the time saved by using a cooking sauce, while not compromising on the quality of the finished dish.

Enthusiastic for ethnic foods

When it comes to our home eating habits, four in ten adults who eat ethnic food enjoy it at home once a month and one in ten eat it twice or more in the week. Indeed, 62% of consumers surveyed by Mintel said that cooking ethnic food at home is cheaper than getting a takeaway and, proving we are enjoying the fruits of our cooking labours, 36% said cooking ethnic food at home tastes just as good as having a takeaway. Just 6% of consumers claim to never eat ethnic food.

Mintel projects the retail value of ethnic food to increase to over £1.5 billion (€1.71 billion) by 2013 as the nation’s affinity for cooking ethnic food at home grows. Chinese food has seen stir fry sales go up 37% between 2008 and 2010, while cooking sauces for Chinese food are also up 13%. Indian food has seen a slump in the ready meal sector, with sales down 2.6% from 2006, but conversely there has been a 11.4% rise in the retail value of accompaniments in the two years leading up to 2010. Mexican food has received a massive boost over the same period with all retail sectors up in value.

Inspirational meals from around the world

Uncle Ben’s sauces offer a wide range of inspirational meals from around the world. Perfect for busy families, Uncle Ben’s products contain no artificial colours, flavours, preservatives or monosodium glutamate (MSG). With healthier eating and lifestyles increasingly driving meal-planning and purchasing decisions, Uncle Ben’s provides consumers with great tasting, healthy, high quality products that can be ready in minutes.

In terms of market share, Uncle Ben’s sauce remains the number one brand leader within the ethnic food category, holding 22% market share of the ethnic sauce category and spanning Oriental, Indian and Mexican cuisines. Uncle Ben’s is also Ireland’s favourite rice brand with over 57% value share of the rice category. Mars’ best selling lines include its Sweet & Sour and Curry sauce lines along with the category leading express rice and boil in bag rice products.  

The latest addition to the Uncle Ben’s sauce family is the ‘Stir Fry’ range which provides consumers with high quality stir fry sauces that can be prepared with minimal effort, meeting consumers’ needs for speed and convenience without compromising on taste. Since its launch, Uncle Ben’s Stir Fry has performed very well, driving value sales growth and introducing new consumers to the stir fry category – year to date it is currently delivering volume sales growth of 11%.

Uncle Ben’s offers great value for money solutions for all consumers. Its breadth of range coupled with the high quality of  Uncle Ben’s products ensures that consumers can get a great value meal for their families while not compromising on its taste or quality.  

*Source: AC Nielsen Value Share MAT July ‘10

Knorr’s Season & Shake range has added e1m incremental sales value to the dry sauces category since its launch in October 2010

Knorr’s Season & Shake range has added e1m incremental sales value to the dry sauces category since its launch in October 2010

Knorr how

Knorr is number one in the dry sauces sector with over 50% share, where its range includes standard sauces, cream sauces and Knorr mealmakers. In total, the dry sauces sector is worth €19.4 million MAT and is up 7.4% in value*.

Cook in sauces are driving category growth where Knorr accounts for 57.2% share and is leading the way with its Season & Shake innovation. This proposition which includes an innovative new baking bag and seasoning sachet, has delighted consumers and added €1m incremental sales value to the dry sauces category since its launch in October 2010.

In fact, 25% of the Irish population have tried Season & Shake and with exceptional repeat rates, Knorr has responded to consumer demand and expanded the range. There are now six flavours to choose from including Mediterranean Chicken, Paprika Chicken and Rustic Chicken, as well as the newly launched Tuscan Lamb, Lemon & Dill Salmon and Garlic & Herb Roast Chicken.

season2This convenient, tasty and healthy product is in huge demand and already accounts for 15% value share** of the casserole sector. Knorr will continue to support the product through continuous investment above-the-line with a large scale TV campaign planned throughout September to November as well as product demonstrations and consumer sampling. The company will also offer a number of in-store promotions to encourage trial and repeat purchase. In order to optimise sales, merchandise Season & Shake at secondary sittings beside meat and poultry fridges, fish counters and chilled aisles in-store.

In addition to driving its traditional top selling range in standard sauces, cream sauces and mealmakers, Knorr will continue to innovate to bring new shoppers and to grow the category.

Keep an eye out for continued innovation from Knorr Sauces throughout 2011/2012. Knorr looks forward to driving brand and category growth by delivering a great product mix along with continued brand advertising support and strong in-store promotions.  

season3*Source: AC Nielsen Scantrack (MAT to 10 July 2011)
**Source: AC Nielsen Scantrack (YTD 10 July 2011)

Hot growth for Mexican foods  

The Mexican category, of which cooking sauces and condiments are a major part, has seen continued growth in 2011. According to Sarah Hughes, brand manager at Discovery Foods,  Discovery is leading the way not only with its wide range of sauces and condiments, but also in terms of educating the end consumer – who is looking for new, more adventurous cuisines to cook up with minimum fuss, maximum convenience at home.

Fajitas, which can be made with a variety of pastes, sauces and condiments at affordable prices, are still at the forefront of consumer’s minds; however emerging trends within the sector are seeing consumers becoming more adventurous by trying other Mexican meals including tacos, enchiladas and burritos which use a variety of sauces and condiments, assisting in the growth of the sector.

Consumer tastes are changing; people are becoming more adventurous when trying different types of cuisine – particularly within the home.  One cuisine that has become particularly popular is Mexican and this has meant that consumers are now purchasing Mexican sauces and condiments in place of traditional sauces such as bolognese.

It is well known that one barrier to the Mexican category has historically been the perception that all Mexican food is spicy. Discovery has addressed this within the sauces and condiments sector by offering a wide range of separates – in varying degrees of heat and spice – which helps to introduce consumers to contemporary Mexican flavours while reassuring them that Mexican cuisine can be mild too. Discovery separates consist of guacamole style topping, soured cream, and mild, medium or hot salsa. These condiments allow customers greater flexibility to tailor-make their own Mexican meals, according to their preferences.

The trend for more adventurous tastes at home for a fraction of the price has continued. A key aim for Discovery within the Mexican food sector has been to demystify Mexican cuisine and demonstrate how easy it is to prepare Mexican food the Discovery way using sauces and condiments.  Its range of separates is central to this by offering tailored meal-time solutions at affordable prices.



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