Melanie Bartelme
Melanie Zanoza Bartelme is a Global Food Analyst at Mintel, providing insights on global innovation and consumer trends across a number of food categories

Canada is a land that is bountiful with ingredients and incorporating the produce and products native to each province can lend a sense of regionality to sauces.

Each part of Canada grows or raises particular foods, such as Saskatoon berries in Saskatchewan and maple syrup in Quebec. Consumers in these areas specifically seek out and celebrate these foods. Product developers can educate themselves on the crops available in each area and incorporate them into barbecue, stir-fry, or braising sauces that would imbue meals with a taste of a certain place.

While Canada has a bevy of ingredients in their own backyard, they can look for inspiration near and far.

Canadian sauce consumers want to be intrigued and engaged

Forty-five percent of Canadian sauce/marinade users say that they are interested in sauces/marinades that feature regional flavors, including those from across Canada’s provinces. Concurrently, 47% say they are looking for sauces and marinades that allow them to customize the flavors of their foods. Product developers can draw on Canadian consumers’ overarching desire for flavor innovation to explore regionally inspired sauces that give consumers the ability to customize their foods – including traditional Canadian specialties.

“Depending on where you are in the country, your poutine could be topped with butter chicken in B.C., sliced Alberta beef, or even lobster on the East Coast.” – Lenore Newman, professor and cookbook author

Regional sauces can help consumers customize staple ingredients

One way to create regional-feeling sauces while also letting consumers personalize how they use these ingredients can be to introduce sauces that are positioned for use with specific regional foods.

For instance, instead of creating a generic sauce that works well with any fish, identify the specific fish found in each province and create a range of flavors specifically designed for those varieties, such as B.C. salmon, Saskatchewan whitefish, and PEI mussels. These sauces can be further influenced by other ingredients found in these regions, such as B.C. wine.

Vegetable marinades featuring regional ingredients and intended for regional crops may also appeal, as 27% of Canadian fruit/vegetable buyers are interested in sauces that enhance the flavors of vegetables or fruit.

Use classic dishes as a starting point for creativity

While there’s been much debate about what would be considered Canada’s national dish, there are some iconic foods that product developers could help consumers customize by introducing regional variations.

For example, while poutine typically consists of fries, cheese curds, and gravy, regional variations are plentiful across the country, with each area contributing to its local flavor in some way. Product developers could look to these variations as inspiration for even greater innovation in creating sauce bases that reflect the local spins taken in different regions.

Branding from experts lends a sense of authority and authenticity

Blogger-branded salsa

Tomatillo Salsa. This US salsa was made by high-end kitchenware chain Williams Sonoma in collaboration with Gaby Dalkin, a Los Angeles food blogger.

 

Celebrity chef-inspired sauce

Sweet Boreal Sauce for Fish Tartar. This Canadian seafood sauce was created by celebrity chef Arnaud Marchand based on sauces he uses at his restaurant.

 

Restaurant-recipe red sauce

Meat Rosée Sauce. This sauce bears branding from Mike’s, a casual Canadian restaurant chain founded in 1967.

What we think

Canadian sauce consumers are looking for something different in their sauces and marinades. Exploring regionally inspired sauces, both those that reflect Canadian flavors and the international influences contributed by Canada’s immigrant population, can offer consumers the ability to customize the way they use sauces, providing a sense of engagement and discovery.