Classical accompaniments are thriving when they might have been expected to fade along with the Sunday roast, reports Tracy Kelly The Sunday roast may be an English institution but it has never been a particularly convenient one and consumers are increasingly reluctant to spend a large part of Sunday in the kitchen. So quick, easy and tasty traditional accompaniments are solid sellers to time-pressed consumers. Unilever Bestfoods puts the traditional condiments sector (horseradish, apple, cranberry, mint, tartare, seafood and others') at #55.2m, an increase in value of 4.2% since August 2001 [ACNielsen]. Manufacturers must be given credit for innovation in this sector. The launch of organic versions, as well as new variations on traditional products, have been crucial in winning over consumers. Indeed, William Opie, of Bennett Opie, says the company's organic mint sauce is its most successful organic product to date. "We've had it for a year and it flies off the shelves," he says. Meanwhile, Ocean Spray says its recently launched redcurrant and cranberry jelly a variation on the festive favourite cranberry sauce is the fastest growing branded product in the sector and is helping de-seasonalise sales, although nearly half of all cranberry volume and value sales still occurs in December. The pickle market is divided into sweet and sour, with sweet faring better more recently. The overall market is valued at #162m, up 8% on the previous year [Hazlewood Foods/TNSofres, 52 w/e June 23 2002], with sweet pickle, including chutney and relishes, accounting for one-third of total category sales. While confidence in the sweet pickle market was shaken by Nestle's decision to sell Branston pickle earlier this year, focus has now shifted to chutneys. Baxters reports that 23% of UK households buy chutney, up 15% year-on-year. Pat Dyke, customer marketing manager at English Provender, says: "Chutneys have had an amazing revival. From a product that was used with only cheese, cold meats and pies, we now have chutney recipes that partner fish and meat as condiments." Alisdair Cameron, channel manager for Baxters Food Group, which has just launched three speciality chutneys, adds: "We are encouraging consumers to think differently about chutneys and increase the meal usage." Indian chutneys are a must-stock alongside traditional British ones. Patak's says the Indian chutney market is worth #12m and is growing at 15.5% year-on-year [ACNielsen July 2002] with the products increasingly being used as accompaniments to non-Indian meals. Sharwood's adds that innovations such as spreadable chutneys have helped attract younger consumers. McCormick Foods has ventured past traditional recipes with its Bick's World Collections range of relishes, chutneys and salsas, including recipes from Africa, India and Australia. Meanwhile, organic products such as Martlet's vintage chutney and Wilkin & Sons' organic onion relish widen the customer base still further. While sour pickles have shown a slight decline early indications for 2002 estimate a 3% drop, according to Hazlewood the olives sub-sector is showing value growth of 9% year-on-year [Crespo/ACNielsen], driven partly by convenience innovations such as snacking olives in resealable packs. Bennett Opie has also won over consumers with clever packaging. "We've had a lot of success in putting a product lifter inside the jar of cornichons and onions a first in the UK," says William Opie. Innovation like that is the way to go in this market, according to Amanda Egner, Hazlewood marketing manager for pickles. She says that, with consumer penetration at 85%, the key is to encourage consumers to spend more each time they shop. In the mustard market the competition is hotting up as manufacturers fight static volumes by launching speciality mustards. Colman's says its Mustard Shop range is market leader in this sub-sector, with consumers responding well to flavours such as hot wholegrain and Dijon. Similarly, Wilkin & Sons has been so impressed by sales of its chilli mustard, sold under the Burnham label, it is launching its own organic chilli mustard at Christmas. Rival French's says its mustard sales are up 19.5% in value since it extended its speciality range and revamped the packaging. And Silver Spring has launched its speciality mustards in squeezy bottles in the UK market. {{FOCUS ON }}