Would you like salsa with that? Entrepreneurs may find success in the condiment market

Learn more about the condiment market and how your family recipe could be successful in it.

Old family recipes for salsas, barbeque sauces, pickles and other condiments are often the starting point for entrepreneurs entering the food product market. How many condiments will the public purchase and is there a market for new products in this area? Fortunately, for these new entrepreneurs, the answer is “yes” if it is the right product for the right market.

As the economy has shifted, more families and individuals are preparing meals at home and this adds to the growing interest in new uses for condiments. This then opens the market to more creative approaches to developing these ingredients. Mintel, a consumer research firm, has conducted research on this growing segment of the grocery industry. Between 2007-2012, sales of condiments grew by 15 percent with the sharpest jumps occurring at the beginning of the most recent recession.

Consumers are more health conscious in their purchasing and eating and that is also reflected in their purchase of condiments. When surveyed, over half of the condiment users expressed low sodium/sodium free as being an important quality they look for when purchasing items. Over half are also interested in all natural and free of artificial additives/preservatives. In addition, there is a growing market for gluten-free products. Entrepreneurs who develop products with these healthful qualities that taste good will have the important ingredients for growing business.

For food entrepreneurs considering bringing a new condiment to the market, there are some additional things to consider. The highest frequency user in this category is the 18 to 24 age group with the lowest frequency user being those age 65 and older. This is usually due to the health concerns of the older population, but finding a way to include this group may be the road to higher sales. Ethnic sauces are popular and are dominated by the Mexican and Asian inspired products but the “other” sauce segment, made up of largely hot sauce brands, is one of the biggest winners in the category as there is a growing interest in spicy flavors.

Packaging trends are changing and consumers are looking for convenience and eco-friendliness. Re-sealable bags and reduced packaging are becoming common and expected trends in the market. It is reported that only 37 percent of condiment users enjoy trying new and different flavors which makes bringing a new product to market a challenge. However, methods employed to provide consumers with taste tests, demonstrations of multiple uses for the products and recipes containing the products can be important tools in breaking into this market.

According to Beth Bloom, Food and Drink Analyst for the Mintel Group, “Despite the large size of the category (848 condiments were launched in 2011), condiment users use only 2.1 products in a typical day. Increasing the number of condiments used and the frequency of use will be key in growing sales. One means of doing this is by providing specific usage suggestions to consumers through product advertising and on-product packaging.”

The Michigan State University Product Center provides product development and market analysis assistance to help Michigan entrepreneurs develop and commercialize high-value, consumer–responsive food products. For more information, visit the Product Center website or call 517-432-8750.

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