Sauces could be used more than consumers realize

August 9, 2018
4 min read

Consumers are willing to use an assortment of sauces to add flavor to their meals, yet many sauces do not call out how versatile they can be. While the industry separates cooking sauces and table sauces/condiments into different categories, half of Canadian and American condiment/dressing consumers say that any sauce can be a condiment, which consumers associate with versatility. The majority of US and Canadian condiment/dressing consumers say condiments/dressings have many uses and well over half of British condiment eaters say they use condiments in a variety of ways.

There is an opportunity for table and cooking sauce brands to take advantage of consumers’ willingness to migrate between categories by omitting traditional definitions and treating more sauces in all-purpose ways. This could help consumers explore a full range of uses for sauce products, allowing for deeper integration into consumers’ meals and increasing purchase rates.

Sauces can move outside their category

Consumers don’t think of the sauces they buy as being defined as a table or cooking sauce. Product developers can do a better job of positioning their sauces as multipurpose to drive further uses across new occasions.

For example, introductions of sauces positioned specifically for use with French fries have been negligible. However, many kinds of sauces could pair well with fries, including Taste Domination’s Wing Sauce, which the brand says works perfectly with fries. While only one in five US consumers buy flavored mayonnaise, a flavored option could be positioned as a dip for fries, a base for a sauce, a taco topping and more.

Suggestions such as these could pique consumer interest and help them think about sauce types in a new way, perhaps increasing their usage or encouraging consumers to make a purchase in the first place.
The majority of US and Canadian condiment/dressing consumers say condiments/dressings have many uses and well over half of British condiment eaters say they use condiments in a variety of ways.

Blurring category lines could make dish-specific sauces suitable for any occasion

While many sauces are inherently multipurpose, such as tartar or mint sauce, some consumers don’t feel that way. Messaging on these types of sauces could help change consumers’ idea of dish-specific sauces, encouraging consumers to use these sauces more often.

Nearly four in five UK dish-specific table sauce users say pairing suggestions on pack would prompt them to try dish-specific sauces with less traditional dishes, while half say merchandising with foods they traditionally are not paired with would encourage them to try the sauce with a new dish.

Encouraging additional uses could help prevent waste

Consumers do not appear to be limiting how often they are purchasing condiments, with a third of US consumers saying they purchased eight or more condiments in the last six months to Oct 2017. Yet, nearly the same percentage say they struggle to finish their condiments before they go bad.

Suggestions for using these condiments in multiple ways could help alleviate this fear of waste. It could also serve as a way to help consumers feel confident making even more condiment purchases to add to their repertoire.

“Everything” sauces bridge the gap between table and cooking sauces


Williams Sonoma Roy Choi Garlic Everything Everyday Sauce. This US sauce is described on Williams Sonoma’s website as a “marinade, BBQ sauce, dip, and condiment in one.”


Meat and veg

Fire Belly A Sauce for Everything Original Recipe. This Canadian sauce is said to go well with any meat or vegetarian dish. There are no recipes or language describing how best to use it, though, which could further expand its potential.

Marinade and more

Uncle Ben’s Flavour Burst Soy, Sesame & Ginger. This UK product is positioned as a marinade, cooking sauce and dip in one, playing up the product’s versatility while also offering clear use suggestions.

What we think

Sauce consumers don’t care whether a sauce is technically a cooking sauce or a condiment, and they choose to use anything at different times to dress up a dish. Table and cooking sauce brands have an opportunity to willingly blur these lines and turn their products into multipurpose sauces to further inspire consumers to use products in new ways. More detailed instructions could help consumers incorporate sauces they already buy into new occasions, as well as making them feel more comfortable taking a chance on new varieties.

Melanie Bartelme
Melanie Bartelme

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

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