Elaine Underwood, managing director of Sharwood’s Foods, gives her opinion

The cooking sauce market is stimulated by high demand for convenience and a grow-ing interest in different cuisines.

Taste is key, and we have found that this is usually defined by country and cuisine, and the level of pungency.

The broad diversity of flavours, reinforced by familiar brand names, ensure cooking sauces command substantial shelf space. This leads to a high rate of sale and cross-purchasing, as consumers choose between different varieties and brands.

Advertising levels are not as high as in some other categories because manufacturers devote more of the marketing budget to in-store promotional activity, in order to drive sales at point of purchase.

Shoppers like to browse in-store and seek inspiration and simple meal solutions.

Linked promotions are highly successful. Sharwood’s promotions drive purchase both within the market and in other categories: for example, a price reduction on ready-to-eat Naan bread with a Balti StirFry sauce.

Retailers support this type of activity, as there is a benefit for both them and their shoppers in extending experimentation across the cuisine. It builds extra sales, rather than just taking value out of the sector with price promotion.

As for the future – there will be a greater movement towards flavour and recipe specialisation; travel will influence choice with Goan and Thai-inspired sauces coming to the fore during 1996.

Growth and innovation will continue to flourish because there is a real consumer demand for value, ease of use and accessible, interesting sauces.

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