Just add sauce

The few long range forecasts available say they expect summer to be ‘average’. With no World Cup or similar event we could do with some great barbie weather. If we get it, will we have special food and drink treats available to tempt summer consumers?

THINK barbecues and you might think first of all of burgers and hot dogs. But what goes on top? There’s money in extras and to some consumers barbies cry out for sauces and dressings.

According to Unilever overall sales in the dressings category are worth £644m, with £69m of sales going through convenience stores. Heinz values the UK barbecue market at £19.3m.


And some suppliers see sauces and dressings as ideal products that allow shops to give their customers the chance to very quickly add a bit of spice to their barbies.

For the great British public apparently it’s often a question of the hotter the better.

Partners for Growth, the c-store category management advice programme backed by Unilever, sees the summer as providing real opportunities for retailers to grab additional sales on the back of a barbie boom.

The programme’s range and merchandising controller Nick Widdowson said: “Summer is very important for the table sauces, dressings and condiments category because of barbecues. With 99% of households buying these products, they are key top-up items in convenience stores.”

Partners for Growth’s five-point plan for merchandising sauces, dressings and condiments in summer suggests that retailers should:

Make products easier to find – by placing them where shoppers can easily see them.

Divide the display area into distinct product groups – table sauces, dressings, and condiments.

Encourage seasonal extra sales by having a special barbecue products shelving unit and siting it near to chicken, meat and fish.

 tock best sellers because nearly two-thirds of shoppers who don’t make a purchase say it is because what they wanted wasn’t available.

 Keep up to date on new products and packs, for example squeezy packs are popular currently.

Back at Unilever itself table sauces category manager Ade Adams argued it was important for retailers to ring the seasonal changes as the barbie and picnic months approached.

Sauce suppliers reckon Britain’s barbie lovers also like a bit of spice and smoke. Big brands and specialist firms have been developing or distributing new lines with flavours from around the world. Mexico, Thailand and the United States will all be represented on the summer barbecue store displays and many brands have been given new looks and launched in squeezy bottles.

“Don’t lose out on seasonal sales by keeping the same shelf all year round,” he said.

“In summer make sure
you stock products which are relevant to your customers’ eating habits. Non-traditional sauces such as barbecue
and hot sauces must be stocked.”

Ahead of the season many of the sauce and condiments brand owners have been busy.

Hellmann’s has rolled out squeezy packaging across its entire portfolio.

Colman’s and Maille brand manager Hannah Webb said that after adding Hot Garlic Chilli, Burger Sauce and Smokey Barbecue to the Colman’s sauce list the range had reached £1.5m sales value.

Encona has added Mexican Smokey Jalapeño Sauce and Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce Mild to its squeezy pack range.

Heinz has introduced new varieties in its barbecue sauce and Chilli Ketchup ranges including Jalapeño Chilli and Sriracha Chilli Sauce.

Baxters is making two previous limited-edition flavours, Extra Hot Habanero and Hot Pepper Steak Sauce, permanent additions to its Jack Daniel’s sauces range.

A Baxters spokesperson said: “We have continued to take our recipe development back to BBQ basics, drawing on the trend for US-style low and slow cooking.

Empire Bespoke Foods has also turned to America for its latest barbecue product.

Head of brands Piers Adamson said: “We are incredibly excited to be launching one of America’s leading BBQ brands, Stubb’s, into the UK in time for grilling season.”