Marinades is a thriving market, thanks to celebrity chefs, cookery magazines and the growth in popularity of barbecues. At least, this is the opinion of Sally Haydock, sales and marketing director at marinades producer English Provender Company.
She says: "The market has been in growth for several years, with more information teaching consumers different ways of barbecuing."
According to Haydock, barbecue and chilli marinades will always be the biggest sellers in English Provender's range although new flavours are beginning to take off.
"Consumers are becoming more adventurous and trying Indian, Thai and Jamaican alternatives," she says. "Our research has found consumers are keen to try new flavours - we just have to put the idea into their heads. We also discovered that consumers prefer instant marinades, rather than making their own, so the more choice they have, the better."
Phil Linus, managing director at The Grocery Company, which distributes Nando's in the UK, says consumers are turning away from weaker flavours, such as Worcester sauce, in favour of spicier varieties. He claims Nando's has the largest selection of marinades on the market and is continually broadening its range. He also believes consumers will continue to crave more unusual flavours and will be prepared to pay for them.
"I think we will see a move towards more upmarket products. Consumers are happy to spend more on barbecuing because it is considered the new dinner party. Dining outside is seen as exciting."
James Beaton, Discovery Foods managing director, is keen to promote al fresco dining because he does not believe it is exploited enough. "We want to educate consumers in the ways of al fresco dining," he says. "There is so much scope for experimentation that isn't getting through. We want to promote the use of sauces within cooking and also as a condiment.
"Kebabs are great served in a wrap with salad and salsa - it's a wonderful way to present food. However, there's no scope for inspiration at the fixture in stores. It would be great to explain our ideas at point of purchase, but it's not so easy to get brand leaflets in-store anymore," he says.
Kikkoman Teriyaki Marinade is the subject of TV ads on UK TV Food and in consumer press advertorials during the summer. TV ads will feature chef Danny Boome preparing quick and easy recipes with chicken wings and drumsticks.
The 60-second ads will run two to three times a day over a four-week period in May. Ben Briody, Kikkoman UK sales and market manager, says the company spotted an opportunity to promote the soya-based sauce, which contains wine, herbs & spices, onion and garlic, as a barbecue product because it is absorbed quickly instead of falling off during cooking.
Dry marinades is a relative niche market although some companies, such as Fiddes Payne, sell dry seasonings with reasonable success. The company produces a range of rubs, including Deep South and Seafood. It also introduced two new seasonings, American Steakhouse and Cajun this month.
However, Fiona Mulroy, sales and marketing director at The Shropshire Spice Company, says consumers are shunning the format. "You don't see rubs often anymore. The multiples haven't yet shown any particular interest in dry marinades."
Kikkoman's Briody says there are obvious reasons why dry rubs are less popular. "A steak marinated with a dry rub is more difficult to prepare than a wet sauce. Also it's easier to burn or dry meat out, whereas you can baste meat with a wet sauce during cooking."
Even so, The Shropshire Spice Company's dry marinades do attract attention in the summer and this year it is expanding its range to take full advantage of the barbecue season. Says Mulroy: "Sales of our barbecue marinade were up 25% last year in independent butchers and delis, so it makes sense to develop the range to target the barbecue market. We're looking into several areas: dressings, marinades and dry rubs."