The total sauces and condiments market is worth £550m for the 52 weeks ending 18 June 2006 and has grown by 3.2% in the latest year.

Because the category already attracts a huge 98.6% of British households during the course of the year, there is little room for growth through attracting new shoppers. Therefore, alternative ways of boosting sales have to be found. This has been achieved by encouraging existing consumers to increase their average spend with added-value lines. Because consumers are shopping more frequently and spending more each time they shop, the strategy has paid off.

Thick sauces, such as tomato and brown, and thin sauces, which includes products such as soy and Worcester sauces and marinades, combine to make the largest sector in the market with a 34% value share.

It is closely followed by salad accompaniments, which is made up of a range of products such as mayonnaise, salad creams and salad dressing, and which accounts for 32% of the market.

Pickles have experienced strong growth compared with the previous year, driven by a surge in popularity of chutneys and relishes, inspired by the trend for ethnic cuisine and the fashion for barbecues. Thick and thin sauces are also growing above the total market at 4.2% in the latest year.

Heinz Top Down tomato sauce, HP Brown sauce, Hellmann's Extra Light mayonnaise and Branston Small Chunk Pickle have all helped to drive category growth in the latest year.

Heinz Top Down Tomato Sauce is now the leading brand across the market, ahead of Hellmann's mayonnaise in second place.

Salad accompaniments' growth has stagnated in the latest year, with value up only 0.3% to £174m, and sales of vinegar have also been slow, with the category only increasing in value by 1.2% year-on-year. Mustard has performed better, and is up 3.8% on the previous year to £22m.

Waitrose, Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Iceland are over-trading in sauces and condiments compared with their share of the total packaged grocery market. Marks & Spencer, hard discounters and The Co-operative Group are very much under trading in the category.

Jez Parkes, TNS Worldpanel