Chicken tikka massala may be one of the UK's favourite meals, but in the cooking sauce category Italian is still king. The Patak's brand is well known in the ethnic sauces aisle but is still only the ninth-biggest cooking sauce brand at a value of £26m, behind Uncle Ben's, Dolmio and Knorr and the second-largest ethnic brand behind Sharwood's.

The performance of the Patak's cooking sauce brand over the past year, however, will be encouraging for potential investors. In the year ending October 2006 the brand grew 9% in value compared with a 6.1% growth from cooking sauce brand leader Dolmio. Sharwood's grew only 0.7% in the same period and Geeta's dropped a massive 35%.

Increased activity from new and existing brands and formats will be food for thought for Patak's. Sharwood's recently extended into chilled sauces, Kohinoor Foods has already been busy promoting its pouched sources range this year and Veetee Rice says it will be launching a range of curry sauces within the year. The growing market for alternative ethnic cuisine such as Caribbean, Thai, Mexican and more recently Eastern European foods will also prove challenging.

Patak's strengths are that it has expanded out of its cooking sauce heartland into frozen ready meals, breads, rice and snacks and recently launched a range of dipping sauces. Its foodservice side also gives it an edge over its rivals.