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The US sauces market grew by 1% in current value terms through 2012 to reach a value of US$18.6 billion, while retail volume sales looked set to fall by 2%.
The sauces category is seeing a move towards premiumisation as consumers are demanding a better taste and higher quality from their home-cooked meals. Younger consumers are increasingly demanding a restaurant quality experience from their home-cooked meals.
As cooking sauces that they use are so vital to the quality of their meals, they are looking for a higher level of excellence and indulgence from this category. At the same time, consumers are unwilling to spend more time cooking to achieve this high-quality taste, making convenient premium products doubly important.
Unlike many industries, producers of sauces fared well during the recession. Falling incomes prompted many consumers to cook and eat more of their meals at home, which increased demand for ingredients from the industry.
Spicy chili/pepper sauces have continued their incredibly swift growth pace in 2012, posting an estimated 9% gain in current value terms to reach sales of US$540 million. Almost every brand within the category has found success as very spicy dishes have become increasingly popular with younger consumers.
Additionally, the category has found extreme growth outside traditional hot sauces, such as Frank's Red Hot and Tabasco, with Huy Fong's Sriracha. The product is swiftly becoming a staple for pairing with Thai and many other Asian recipes as well as non-Asian cuisines like pizza and hot dogs.
In addition to the growing popularity of ethnic/spicy foods, consumers also remain interested in health and wellness options within table sauces. Products or brands that offer reduced calories or promise a low-fat or low-sodium content have grown increasingly popular in the context of consumer concerns about high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
Unilever United States Inc, which surpassed the share of Kraft Foods Inc in 2009 to become the top player in sauces, dressings and condiments, is set to retain its leading position in 2012 with a value share of 10%. Unilever's share has effectively remained flat in 2012 as its major brands, such as Ragú pasta sauce, Hellmann's Mayonnaise and Bestfoods Mayonnaise, have seen little movement in share.
Although the future looks bright for the US sauces market, this sector may see some challenges in the next few years with people starting to eat out more, higher ingredient prices deterring purchases, and easy-to-prepare convenience foods such as frozen entrées and pre-seasoned meats increasing in the marketplace.
For more information on the US sauces industry, see the latest research: US Sauces Industry
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