NPD and value perceptions are key in such a tough, well-established market, writes Jane Bainbridge.
Established staple. Cooking sauces have strong penetration, with 82% of adults using them in 2012. The same proportion used stocks and gravy.
Scratch cooking. As cooking from scratch regains popularity, it poses a threat to ready-made sauces; 38% of adults made sauces from scratch.
Quality. There is an issue in perceived quality: for instance, 39% of shoppers think cooking/pasta sauces need additional herbs and spices added to them.
Value for money. Sauces are considered good value; 43% think it is cheaper to buy ready-made than cook from scratch. Less than a third think branded stocks are better than own-label.
Wet sauces. These dominate the sector, but value sales fell a little to reach £705m in 2012. However, sales of dry-mix sauce products are growing as premium, branded options have launched.
Increased value. Value sales rose 17% between 2007 and 2011 and a further 2% was expected in 2012, bringing the sector to a value of £950m.
UK retail value sales of ambient wet and dry cooking/pasta sauces by cuisine (£m)
NB Excludes soy sauce and marinades. Source: Mintel/based on Symphony/IRI Group infoScan
Leading brands in the UK ambient cooking/pasta sauce market by value sales (£m)
*MAT to 4 August 2011 **MAT to August 2012 NB excludes chilled cooking sauces, marinades, soy sauce. Source: Mintel/based on SymphonyIRI Group Infoscan.
Jon Goldstone, vice-president, brand-building, food and ice cream, Unilever
In September 2012 Goldstone joined Unilever from Premier Foods, where he had been group marketing director. An experienced food marketer he has also worked at Kraft, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, on the Walkers Snacks business.
Ian Deste, commercial director, grocery and group sales director, Premier Foods
Deste joined Premier Foods in 2011 as group sales director, and added commercial director for grocery to his remit in November 2012. Previously he spent 20 years at Coca-Cola Enterprises, most recently as vice-president, sales and customer development.
Paola Bassi, UK marketing director, McCormick
Bassi joined McCormick in Italy in 2005, after eight years at Nestle Italy, where she held various marketing roles in the chilled products and nutrition divisions. In 2007, she joined the McCormick EMEA marketing team in the UK as category director. Bassi became UK marketing director in 2011, responsible for the Schwartz brand.
Rosie Jackson, marketing director, Mars Food UK
Jackson began her career at Kraft, rising to senior brand manager, and also spent time at Reckitt Benckiser before taking up her current role with Mars.
She is responsible for the launch of ambient ready meals - including Dolmio PastaVita - as well as Dolmio's Papa's Big Tomato challenge.
Winners and losers in the cooking/pasta sauces & stocks sector
Colman's. Unilever's brand has performed well thanks to its NPD in the dry packet sauce category. Sales increased 16% in the year to August 2012. It also put additional marketing support behind its Season & Shake range.
Patak's. Sales increased 14% as 2012 proved a good year for the Indian food brand. Online it was one of the most-mentioned cooking sauce brands (Brandwatch, December to January).
Dolmio. The Mars brand is the clear market-leader in cooking and pasta sauces with Italian-style sauces remaining most popular, but in the year to August 2012 its sales and share dipped slightly and it cut adspend.
Homepride. Premier reacted to a slight dip in sales with a pack redesign and a more prominent position for its bowler-hatted Fred character.
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