Food business tips: Changing condiment trends influence new products

Condiment sales rise as consumers cook more meals at home to save money. Adults ages 18-24 and Hispanics use more condiments and drive product development toward spicy, healthy and convenient options.

As food prices increase, more and more consumers are choosing to cook at home instead of eating out. Mintel’s consumer research finds that the more skilled a person is at preparing meals, the more likely they are to use a higher number of condiments.

In addition, they report that adult’s ages 18-24 use an average of 2.11 condiments a day while those aged 65 and above use an average of 1.56. As Mintel reports, the lower use by seniors is likely related to their health concerns. New product development will need to focus on such concerns to capture sales from this age group of consumers.

Hispanics use an average of 2.23 condiments a day. Since the Hispanic population is expected to rapidly increase by 34 percent over the next few years, these consumers appear to be a strong target for production development and promotion. Although Asian usage of condiments are low on the average, the rising population that is expected of this group may very well call for a focus on what condiments would appeal to this market segment as well.

The biggest winner of U.S. sales comes in the “other sauces” category as spicy flavors boost sales by 28 percent. Sales of ethnic sauces represent 18.3 percent of condiment sales with Mexican-inspired salsas and sauces dominating the sales, according to Mintel. Following close behind is soy sauce and Asian-inspired sauces and marinades, indicating that the Asian cuisine has a vast following among the larger population.

Total U.S. retail sales of meat sauces grew by 12 percent over the last five years. This trend is likely due to consumers interested in enhancing the flavor of the lower-cost meat products that they are trading down to, according to Mintel.

Condiments sales in natural supermarkets grew strongly during 2009-2011 as consumer interest rose in a wide range of new, high-priced, local artisan items.

The Michigan State University Product Center provides product development and market analysis assistance to help Michigan entrepreneurs develop and commercialize high-value, consumer–responsive food products. For more information, visit the Product Center website or call 517-432-8750.

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