The Grocer’s 2017 Top Products Survey, THE definitive guide to the current state of the UK’s grocery industry

Pass the passata. Inspired by TV chefs and a desire to cut down on sugar and salt, Brits are ditching jars and returning to scratch cooking, meaning this uncooked tomato puree is in “strong growth”, according to Napolina marketing director Neil Brownbill.

And they’re not just putting such products in pasta (sales of which are down). The Belazu Ingredient Company has seen a 58.2% uplift in demand for its Middle Eastern culinary pastes like rose harissa. “The public is beginning to invest in high-impact, quality ingredients that help to replicate restaurant-standard dishes at home,” says commercial director Peter Oden.

Brits are also hunting down posh stocks as they get more creative in the kitchen. Wessanen UK-owned organic stock cube brand Kallo surged 10.3% thanks to growing consumer interest in traceability “which is driving up sales of organic foods,” says brand manager Beth Roxburgh. Its low-salt stock cubes are also doing well, she adds.

While the return to home cooking has been a boon for pastes, purées and posh stocks, it has wiped a further £28m off the cooking sauces category over the past year. Dolmio accounted for almost half of this decline with sales down £12.0m, but pasta sauce rivals Homepride, Ragu, and Napolina didn’t fare much better, nor did world sauce heavyweights such as Sharwoods, Pataks and Uncle Ben’s.

Loyd Grossman was the only top 10 brand to enjoy volume and value growth, thanks to strong sales of its premium pouches and extended Italian portfolio. “Shoppers are trading up from other brands,” says brand director Yilmaz Erceyes.

Own-label sauces have also bounced back following a major shakeup of the cooking sauce aisles of the major mults, with the likes of Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons “replacing branded items with their own label” says Beatriz Morgado, senior client manager at Nielsen. Not only is own label “considerably cheaper” than brands, but retailers have upped their game on NPD, moving beyond tried and tested recipes to offer shoppers something they might not be able to whip up at home.

It isn’t all doom and gloom for sauce brands, though. There’s been strong growth for healthy innovations such as Sharwood’s new low-fat Tikka and Korma sauces and no-added-sugar SKUs from Napolina, Dolmio and Uncle Ben’s. “Sugar content is the most important factor for consumers when choosing food,” says Brownbill.

Dolmio has also picked up new listings for its Chicken Tray Bakes pouches, which open up “new meals for Italian sauces” says brand manager Ian Nundy, who insists Dolmio is now back in growth.


dolmio no added sugar

Dolmio No Added Sugar by Mars

It’s a Dolmio day. And it can be again tomorrow now the Mars-owned brand has launched a no-added-sugar range. Hitting shelves just over a year after Mars admitted some of its less healthy sauces should only be eaten once a week, Dolmio’s new salubrious lineup of five tomato-based sauces contain between 3.9g-4.5g of naturally occurring sugar per 100g, and eschew artificial sweeteners in favour of a clean label. They come in a 350g jar to cater for smaller households (rsp: £1.99).

The Grocer Top Products Survey 2017: Up!