Heinz Tomato Ketchup and Salad Cream will always have a place at barbecues but consumers are actively seeking more exotic alternatives. Caribbean and Thai sauces, in particular, are attracting interest.
Sam Deacon, product marketing manager at RH Amar, predicts Caribbean sauces will be the flavour of the summer. RH Amar distributes Walkerswood sauces aimed specifically at the barbecue market. First trialled in multiples as part of the fixture, it is now penetrating the mainstream with products including Jonkanoo pepper, One Stop jerk, Las'Lick Jerk and Jerk BBQ sauces.
"Walkerswood has shown phenomenal growth over the past few years," says Deacon. "Caribbean sauces is in a growth period and currently worth about £30m, up nearly 50% since 1998."
Chutneys and relishes are increasingly popular, according to the main players. Premier Foods says its Branston relishes, launched last year, claimed 33% of the sector and became the leading brand over the barbecue season. To extend its lead, it is launching sweetcorn & red pepper and honey & mustard this year.
Dave Connelly, Branston relishes marketing manager, says: "Branston relishes have far exceeded expectations in 2005 by becoming the number one brand with just eight weeks of launch. However, there is a bigger opportunity to be enjoyed. As well as relishes, there is an important role for table sauces during the barbecue season, particularly ketchup."
This summer, Branston will take the fight to Heinz over the battle of the sauces for the barbecue. Branston-branded tomato ketchup and brown sauce were launched in February and Premier Foods predicts they will deliver sales of £20m in the first two years. It is also claiming a category first because its brown sauce is the first to come in the top-down format.
Connelly says: "In consumer testing, 79% of consumers who tried Branston tomato ketchup and 84% who tried Branston brown sauce said they would buy them again. This supports forecasts of securing 20% of the brown sauce and 10% of the tomato sauce markets within two years."
As a sponsor of National BBQ Week, Branston products will benefit from promotional activity throughout the summer. Branston Relishes feature in a £2m TV ad campaign in May and there will also be sampling activity.
Heinz is setting its sights on further growth and various link purchase activities over the summer to drive sales of tomato ketchup and salad cream. Vicki Gregory, salad cream marketing manager, says: "Sales are particularly high in the summer so this is where we focus our activity. The barbecue is a family occasion so the favourites are still there. Newer, more exotic flavours will appeal to some consumers but the most common sauces remain Heinz ketchup and salad cream, which is particularly seasonal with 60% of sales between April and September."
Heinz is also penetrating the low-calorie market with the launch of an extra-light salad cream that contains less fat, sugar and salt than its light variant. While salad cream is seasonal, barbecue sauce is even more so and requires as much exposure as possible. Jane Jeffreys, Heinz tomato ketchup marketing manager, explains: "Dual siting of salad cream and barbecue sauces is essential to sales at peak times of year. Approximately 10% of households buy into the barbecue sauce market, and 80% of Heinz BBQ sauce sales are between May and August."
HP Foods is also stepping up its activity in the barbecue sauces market with an overhaul of its range and the addition of a honey & woodsmoke flavour. The sauces would further extend Heinz's reach in the market should its purchase of HP Foods get the go-ahead.
While there are perennial favourites at barbecues, respondents also look for something a little bit different - novelty foods are as yet unexploited
Score: 26 Category average: 26
with Sun-dried Tomatoes & Basil
Score: 39 Category average: 39
Score: 33 Category average: 34
A mixed response to this froze