Salad accompaniments account for some £176.7m of the total sauces and condiments sector, just behind thick and thin sauces, with Hellmann’s and Heinz clear market leaders.
“As a whole the salad dressings category has been going from strength to strength. Light meal consumption is increasing as lifestyles change and host foods are driving growth,” says Heinz Salad Cream and cold condiments marketing manager Vicky Gregory.
The brand’s long stint of advertising with the TV soap Emmerdale had a huge impact, she says, and adds that health issues have a big role to play. Healthy-eating consumers are looking for more things to help them enjoy healthy foods because they can be bland.”
Indeed, one of the big drivers has been light variants within the sector. Hellmann’s Extra Light Mayonnaise has nearly doubled in value over the past year [TNS].
Unilever UK Foods category manager Mike Knowland says that packaging is also important in mayonnaise. “Squeezy is the major focus. One of the main consumer trends is convenience - a jar tends to sit at the back of the fridge but squeezy sits in the fridge door.”
The company also launched a range of warm summer salad dressings last year in an effort to “bring the out-of home experience in home”.
Knowland says: “Salad dressings are a good opportunity for getting new people in to the category. It’s important to have a
standard core range including, for example, Thousand Island and French dressings, as well as newer offerings.
“It’s also important to make sure the fixture is easy to shop. At the moment there are a lot of brands, although retailers in general are recognising the good performance in the sector. They have to make it easy to shop, with brand blocking, relevant range, understanding the importance of the shopping experience and supporting brand initiatives.”
Unilever says it is spending £13m on the Hellmann’s brand this year, which it expects to result in 5% sales growth.
Meanwhile, distributor RH Amar warns that the salad cream market is stagnating. It says: “Although salad cream has a loyal customer base, the product looks dated in comparison to salad dressings, which offer a wide range of innovative flavours.”