The key manufacturers have really been on the ball with authenticity and versatility as Mary Carmichael reports
As long as convenience remains top of the grocery industry's wish list, pasta and sauce combinations in any format will continue to do well.
Newcomers this year have focused on innovation, premium-isation and authenticity, with the arrival of big overseas names, while established brands have revamped packaging.
Cirio Del Monte introduced its Cirio pasta sauces to the UK from Italy with a little help from another import. It signed up one of the biggest names of the summer ­ the England football team's Swedish manager Sven Goran Eriksson ­ for a TV campaign which showed the six tomato-based sauces and green pesto as the things he missed most about Italy ­ his previous home.
The launch, which followed Cirio's acquisition of fruit product specialist Del Monte last year, aimed to bring authenticity to the market. Flavours such as Melanzane, Pomodoro and Puttanesca offered a change from familiar options, while four passatas and three pestos have since been added.
Sacl࠭ best known for stir-in sauces ­ claimed to have spotted a gap for a premium sauce in the pasta bake sector and launched four baking sauces under the Pasta Gratinata banner in August. The Spinach & Gorgonzola; Saut饤 Sweetcorn and Rocket; Tomato, Mushroom and Red Chilli; and Roasted Yellow Pepper and Smoked Garlic flavours retail at £2.29 for a 430g jar.
Pasta Reale added texture to the list of duos' in its Duetto range in June. Besides two colours and two flavours of fillings, two of the dishes now include a mixture of smooth and ridged pasta, which is said to make soaking up sauce easier.
There was also activity among supermarket own label Italian ranges, with Safeway launching a 120-strong portfolio including new pasta sauces.
Pasta has also seen a boost from the proliferation of versatile products which list pasta sauces among their uses. Merchant Gourmet claims its range of Mixed Italian Sundried Vegetables ­ Arrabiata, Ortolana and Caponata ­ are ideal as pasta sauces, while the five-strong Olivaise range from CCL Foods also lends itself to a pasta plate. The range includes Blue Cheese and Peppercorn and Garlic flavours.
In packaging, Princes has gone for a more upmarket streamlined look for the Napolina brand it bought from Unilever Bestfoods last year. Part of its £7.8m four-year marketing spend includes new look labels.
Barilla has reworked packaging across its range and introduced new lines, while Scottish soup and pasta sauce brand Go Organic got its first marketing support since Unilever Bestfoods acquired a 90% share last year, with a £2.5m press campaign.
kicked off in March, while other activity included improved recipes with extra virgin olive oil, a redesigned logo and bigger jars. Distribution increased by 20%.

Cirio p45 5/1/2
Sven p48 30/3/2
Go Organic p68 23/3/2
Barilla p68 12/10/2
Napolina p54 20/4/2
Olivaise see postbag 2/11/2

(Geest preparing for major fresh pasta relaunch in new year).