Adding that something extra to a plate of leaves has launched consumers on a new love affair with salads, says Tracy Kelly Pre-packed salads have revolutionised consumer attitudes, so it should be no surprise to learn that there has been a step change in salad accompaniments too. Easton Millar, trade relations manager at Kraft Foods, says: "As consumers move away from traditional iceberg lettuce to more continental leaves such as watercress and rocket, they are opting for a more Continental dressing rather than the very British salad cream." Certainly, salad cream has dropped by more than 4% year-on-year in terms of spend [TNS], with smaller brands and own labels suffering the brunt of the impact. But the wider dressings market has been buoyed by other pourable salad dressings which are up 14% year-on-year. Hellmann's salad dressings, for example, have grown 38% since their relaunch in April, when new premium products were introduced alongside versatile' products designed to double up as marinades, pasta dressings or stir-fry sauces. Similarly, Loyd Grossman Original Recipe Dressings are being positioned as "more than just something to pour over salads" with on-pack suggestions for alternative uses. Low-fat offerings are important in salad dressings, with Kraft positioning its entire Get Dressed range in both regular and low-fat variants. Kraft Foods' Millar says: "The reduced fat dressings market is certainly growing and all our dressings have a reduced fat version. Low fat is currently growing at 3.7% while regular is growing at 7.8%." [ACNielsen latest MAT to 10 August 2002.] And CCL Foods has introduced what it says is the first commercially manufactured, fat-free organic salad dressing to the UK market, with a nine-strong range. McCormick Foods has focused on convenience with its range of Schwartz salad seasonings, dressing mixes and toppings in handy packaging. Dressing mixes come in single sachets that serve four people when blended with oil and vinegar or mayonnaise, while pots of shake-over salad seasonings and drums of crunchy bacon bits are also designed for ease of use. Mayonnaise remains the most popular product in the total salad dressing market, with Hellmann's valuing the sector at #78.8m and growing at 6%. Sales are divided equally between light and real' versions, with retailers advised to stock both, even if it means carrying smaller jars. Recent innovation has been in adding a twist to traditional mayonnaise. This summer Hellmann's relaunched its Mediterranean mayonnaise and Dijonnaise brands, while Benedicta reckons its mayonnaise with a hint of Dijon mustard, a strong seller in its native France, is just the thing for the UK market. David Lustpot, Benedicta's marketing director, says that while usage occasions of mayonnaise are growing, sales remain seasonal. He says those between May and September triple the rest of the year. {{FOCUS ON }}