The English Provender Company's extensive range of condiments pitches it against heavyweight brands such as Heinz and Colman's, but its more premium positioning means it also goes head-to-head with smaller chutney and preserve companies such as Tracklements and Wilkin & Sons.
Unilever's Colman's brand is the company's closest mainstream competitor, with its famous mustard, horseradish, tartare and mint sauces. But EPC has designed its recipes to appeal to a more affluent consumer. Its mint sauce contains aged balsamic vinegar, for example, and its Hot Grated Horseradish needs to be diluted before use, unlike the Colman's product.
Heinz, too, has started to encroach on the company's territory with a gourmet range of products . Last month it launched an upmarket ketchup and a range of premium dressings and mayonnaises.
However, it is of the smaller companies that EPC is most wary. The Tracklements brand produces many similar products, with mustards, pickles, chutneys and salad dressings in its portfolio, and also has an artisan approach. The company supplies specialist food retailers and farm shops and operates an online purchasing service. It has also benefited from Delia Smith's How to Cheat at Cooking book, with its Chilli Jam named a 'cheat ingredient'.
EPC has differentiated itself from companies such as Tracklements with products such as its Very Lazy pre-prepared cooking ingredients range, which are not produced by any of its competitors. It is also expanding into organic and Fairtrade, and recently added an organic mint sauce to its range as well as Fairtrade chocolate and coffee sauces.
Future NPD will concentrate on more Lazy products, the company says, to both capitalise on the growth of cheat ingredients and to continue differentiating the brand from its competitors.