Heinz was hitting the headlines when we covered the sauces and condiments category back in 2001 (The Grocer, 6 October), thanks to its rather strange launch of a green tomato ketchup.

The limited edition green variant, which tasted the same as the brand's traditional red product, gave an insight into how companies were trying to liven up what they thought had ­become a stagnant category.

The company was also thinking about whether to bring its Funky Purple variant of the sauce into the UK after a successful launch in the US.

Heinz was not alone. NPD was also being driven across the Lea & Perrins portfolio with a thicker ­table sauce version of the iconic Worcester sauce brand, launched in a bid to extend usage of the sauce away from just being used for cheese on toast, performing well.

All this NPD appeared to prove very successful. According to figures from TNS, the total sauces and condiments market rose by 7.2% on the previous year, with strong growth coming from salad dressings as well as the more traditional thick and thin sauces.

Michael Beard, chief executive of table sauce producer Rayner Food Group, was confident that growth would continue into next year as people became more adventurous. He said: "The perception and usage of products has changed enormously as consumers have become more cosmopolitan and experimental in their tastes.

"Sauces, condiments, pickles and chutneys are being used experimentally with new foods, in snack meals of all kinds and as meal ingredients."

This was backed up by Mervyn Hanson, sauces and condiments grocery buyer at Booths. He said: "People are more willing to try new things. I'm amazed at how long they study products before they buy."