Tomato ketchup holds a prominent place among the most popular condiments in Germany, found in the majority of German households. It is one of the largest segments in the German table sauces market, and regularly consumed by most of the population.

However, despite ketchup’s well-established position, this classic tomato condiment is increasingly feeling the squeeze as competition is heating up in the German table sauce aisle. In recent years, various barbecue sauces and other ethnic and dish-specific table sauces – particularly chilli sauces and hot, spicier alternatives – have posted strong gains in Germany, as consumers become more experimental and develop more exotic tastes for different condiments.

Competition to tomato ketchup is not only coming from different types of table sauces but from new types of ketchup as well. Between April 2016 and March 2017, almost one-fifth of new ketchup launches were focussed on ‘alternative’ vegetables, offering different flavours to tomato. Their flavour profiles were centred on naturally sweet, flavourful vegetables, such as pumpkin, carrot and beetroot, but also on fruits, including mangos and plums. Besides attention-grabbing flavours, such innovations can help promote more natural and healthier connotations in ketchup, focusing consumer attention on the inherent goodness of fruit and vegetables.

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Mild Pumpkin Ketchup                                                            Smokey Orange Ketchup                                                                            Organic Mango
By Georg Thalhammer                                                       By Herr Edelmann Ketchitup!                                               By Herr Edelmann Ketchup

Consumers expect healthy, natural and clean label formulations

Given the rising competition from other table sauces, tomato ketchup manufacturers face the ongoing challenge of how to find ways to maintain consumer interest and to widen their products’ appeal beyond children and teens, reaching out to older, more sophisticated age groups. This requires close attention to consumers’ evolving demands and needs, as well as their preferences for new flavours and textures.

Naturalness is one of the key factors affecting the consumer’s preference for table sauces, according to Mintel consumer research. Almost half of German table sauces users singled out ‘no additives/preservatives’ as a characteristic that defines an ideal condiment and is especially high among respondents aged 45 and over. ‘Organic’ on the other hand was appealing most to those under 35 years of age.

These preferences are widely reflected in recent tomato ketchup launches in Germany, as brands have ramped up their efforts to make their products more natural and to ‘clean up’ their labels. In 2016, a large percentage of ketchup launches in Germany carried ‘no additives/preservatives’ claims, while a significant portion held gluten-free claims. The fastest growing claims were for vegetarian/vegan and environmentally friendly propositions, reflecting burgeoning interest in more sustainable, plant-based diets in Germany.

Less sugar, more flavour

In response to growing concerns from the public over added sugars in foods, low sugar innovation has also been a focus of recent tomato ketchup launches, with the share of products with ‘low/no/reduced sugar’ claims more than doubling in the past three years. What’s more, some table sauce manufacturers look to combine sugar reduction with the ongoing focus on clean label formulations.

Katya Witham is Senior Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel with a dedicated field of focus on Germany. Katya draws on her comprehensive knowledge of the market to identify and explore the major trends across various FMCG categories, providing the insights needed to successfully navigate the German market.

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