Despite its maturity, the cooking sauces market continues to get bigger. It is up 2.7% to £603m, with Italian cooking sauces, which still account for the biggest proportion of sales, boosting the total category through innovation.

Topping the league table is Masterfoods' mighty Dolmio brand, which grew 6.1% in value to £114.7m in the past year. It is now more than double the size of its nearest rival, Knorr. Its recent success has been driven by innovation in the form of Dolmio Chunky and by the launch of the My Dolmio range of pasta and sauces aimed at children and backed by a £2m marketing campaign.

Unilever UK Foods also turned the spotlight on younger consumers, with the launch of Knorr Ragú for Kids pasta sauces. It followed this by spooning out £5.4m in support for a relaunch of the brand as a whole, including a reformulated recipe, a curvaceous new jar shape and a multimedia campaign. It managed to slow last year's 15.1% decline to a fall of 6.7% this year and a value of £50.6m, but the concerted activity, which includes the launch of a pouch format to compete with the Uncle Ben's and Dolmio ranges, could turn its fortunes around further in the future.

There's been little movement among the rankings in the last year, but the Loyd Grossman brand did rocket its way up the charts from fifth to third, thanks to an ever-increasing range and consumers' interest in premium lines. It clocked up sales of £47.2m with an impressive 25.4% increase.

The shift towards premium and interest in natural ingredients also helped Patak's and the Seeds of Change organic brands, which achieved rises of 9.1% and 14.9% respectively. Their growth came at the expense of more standard lines from Homepride, which fell 10.1%.

Premier Foods already owns the Loyd Grossman brand, but the acquisition of Campbell's in Europe and impending purchase of Bisto maker RHM are likely to put the company in a stronger position to challenge Masterfoods and Unilever. The extension of significant brands such as Sharwood's into the chilled sauces arena may also impact sales of ambient lines.n