This is an active category characterised by a growing number of smaller players and niche recipes vying for share with giants such as Uncle Ben's, Patak's and Homepride. Consumer engagement is strong, with particularly high levels of interest in ethnic recipes. However, fragmentation into more complex recipes is weakening overall product ratings as more distinctive - often polarising - tastes come to dominate innovation. Packaging formats also limit many new products to smaller households.

Although Fast Foodfax tested 16 cooking sauces last year only one product - a chilled sauce from Morrisons - made the Top 100 of the most highly rated products compared with two in 2005. The category norm also eased back one point to 34. Traditional recipes no longer have the same pull for many respondents, although premium formats such as Loyd Grossman may point the way forward for a revitalisation of this sector.

Sainsbury's Taste the Difference cashew nut masala SCORE: 37 AVERAGE: 34

Creamy and fresh-tasting were some of the accolades for this sauce, which appealed to both pre and post-family tasters.

Blue Dragon Chinese Dynasty Capital SCORE: 28 AVERAGE: 34

This generated interest pre-trial, but proved to be an acquired taste. What was dark and rich for some was strong and bitter for others.

Ainsley Harriott stroganoff pan sauce SCORE: 31 AVERAGE: 34

A non-typical stroganoff recipe that under-achieved across all the key product characteristics. Few takers after trial, except if on promotion.