Has ketchup had its chips? Does mustard no longer cut it? Mizkan, home of iconic British brands such as Sarson’s vinegar and Branston pickle, has taken a snapshot of the current condiment market, surveying 1000 consumers to gauge the appetite for traditional sauces versus new flavours on the block. Here is what Mizkan discovered – there are some surprising results and an interesting steer for operators still striving in these uncertain times to enhance their assets and make menus work as hard as they can.
One of the key trends uncovered by the survey was the nation’s enthusiasm for exotic sauces and relishes to accompany traditional foods: an impressive 77% of participants said they would be willing to try a new condiment when eating out of home, rising to 80% for the over 30s.
Far East dominates
Some of the most popular flavour trends at the moment are those with Far Eastern influences, including wasabi, teriyaki, sriracha and sesame. Indeed, four in five respondents said they were familiar with at least one, with wasabi known to 54%, teriyaki to 53% and sriracha to 19%.
Sauces not as widely available on the high street were also surprisingly familiar, with 17% recognising kimchi (a korean dish of spicy pickled cabbage) and 14% aware of sushi-su (a seasoned vinegar with sugar and salt used to flavour the rice used in sushi making).
Even those who were not yet acquainted with the newer flavours were more than willing to try them. Honteri sauce (a non-alcoholic, non-salted mirin or rice wine used to sweeten Japanese dishes such as teriyaki) scored the lowest awareness at 6%, for example, but 97% of all those surveyed said they would like to try it, climbing to 100% of 16-44 year-olds. Similarly, only 7% were aware of ponzu sauce (made with citrus juice and soy sauce), yet 94% would be happy to try it.
Old favourites still required
However, operators should not shelve traditional sauces. The newer flavours need to be offered as a supplement to the range supplied to diners, as the survey revealed more than two in three consumers still prefer the classics, such as tomato and brown sauce.
Mix and match
Operators must understand when consumers consider the new sauces most palatable and offer savvy flavour pairings. Chefs and menu development teams will have a good bank of knowledge on which ingredients go well together. Operators should trial new condiments based on the team’s advice, factoring in menu changes and seasonality to indicate which condiments should be introduced at which time.
As a starting point, the condiment survey revealed consumers were most likely to try a new, more niche sauce with grilled chicken (five of the 11 sauces listed). 55% said they would be willing to try sriracha with grilled chicken, for example, compared to 41% with steak. Correspondingly, 47% would try honteri sauce with the chicken but only 43% would take a gamble with grilled salmon. These results indicate operators would be wise to test new condiment flavours alongside more mainstream dishes, such as chicken, while consumers adjust to the additional choices.
Embracing change pays dividends
What we’re seeing is, while there’s still huge demand for classic condiments such as mayonnaise, tomato, barbecue and brown sauce, appetites are broadening, allowing more exotic flavours into the mix. This opens up a wealth of opportunities for operators, with the chance to offer variations of the same base dishes using the broader range of condiments now increasing in popularity. Switching up the options also enables operators to promote certain menu items by highlighting a special flavour with it, adapt dishes to celebrate world events, and stretch the versatility of established customer favourites to provide even more reason for diners to come back and try them, again and again.
Roaring insight from Lion
Lion Sauces recently released an insight paper – Flavour Forecast: Going Global – to help food businesses keep up to date with the latest food trends. The paper is the first in a series of research pieces delving into consumer behaviour and offering suggestions that will keep menus ahead of the curve.
Side plates, appetisers and shareable nibbles are the perfect way to bring global flavours to menus.
Sarah Moor, brand manager for Lion Sauces, comments: “The UK palate has diversified like never before thanks to globally inspired trends driving a desire to try something new. We want to help operators stay ahead of the crowd and anticipate consumer demand for a world of choice.”
Lion’s insight includes the following:
- 92% of industry leaders believe global cuisines will grow the fastest over the next three to five years, including Global/Fusion, Japanese, Middle Eastern and Korean
- Online and offline, it’s all about sharing. Social dining trends such as tapas, mezze, small plates and sharing platters keep on rising as diners enjoy taking an eclectic safari of flavours and cuisines
- The days are numbered for undifferentiated, meat-mania BBQ brands. The trend now is towards lower meat consumption, healthier eating and sustainable sourcing. Use the hunger for international flavours to help your BBQ menu stand out from the crowd with flavour fusions and cultural collaborations
- While most beef dishes are on the wane in restaurants, beef burgers are enjoying a renaissance. Be adventurous with toppings and offer a wide selection of sauces for burgers, from South Carolina-style mustard BBQ sauce to Korean hot chilli or Thai honey sticky sauce. Sweet and sticky BBQ sauce is a modern classic, however, so keep it on the menu.
Most popular cuisines
- Middle Eastern
On the horizon
- West African
- Contemporary Indian and Chinese
- Venezuelan and Peruvian
Ben Bartlett, former World BBQ Champion, adds: “Offering a wide variety of global cuisines would have been a real headache some years ago. Today it’s much simpler to meet customer demand with ready-made sauces that have been specifically developed to recreate the authentic tastes and aromas of global cuisines.”
Flavour Forecast: Going Global is available to download here.