At Mizkan, we pride ourselves on keeping abreast of new trends, and leading the way when it comes to new flavours. Our New Product Development (NPD) team travels the globe in search of new trends and innovations in food, attending exhibitions such as Anuga Food Fair, Sial International Food & Beverage Show and of course, Taste of London. The team also ensure they keep their finger firmly on the pulse of social media, monitoring and engaging with both consumers and chefs.

We are committed to keeping one step ahead of current trends, in order to constantly innovate across our brands. As part of our annual condiments survey we asked 1,000 consumers for feedback on their favourite condiments, as well as new and emerging flavours, to better understand the demand for these within restaurants, pubs and the quick-service environment.

One key trend we identified was consumer appetite for more exotic sauces and relishes to accompany traditional sandwich flavours. We discovered that, 77% of those surveyed would be willing to try a new condiment in a foodservice environment – rising to four in five in the over 30s.1 However, the survey also revealed that it would be unwise for operators to place their sole focus on flavours of the moment, with the risk of them going out of fashion, as more than two in three consumers surveyed still prefer classic sauces, such as tomato, BBQ and brown sauce.

With that said, consumer awareness of exotic sauces is in fact increasing. Four in five of those surveyed are familiar with at least one niche sauce, including Wasabi (54%), Teriyaki (53%) and Sriracha (19%). Interestingly, this was even the case for sauces that aren’t as widely available on the high street, such as Kimchi (17%) and Sushi-Su (14%). That’s not to say that unfamiliarity would deter consumers from trying these sauces. In fact, when provided with a description, consumers are more willing to experiment with certain dishes. For instance, although Honteri sauce scored the lowest on awareness (6%), 97% agreed they’d be likely to try it with a meal, rising to 100% of 16-44 year-olds. Similarly, only 7% of consumers are familiar with Ponzu sauce, yet 94% said they would be willing to try it.

It is important for operators to know the dishes that consumers feel most comfortable experimenting with, in terms of flavour pairings. Our survey revealed that consumers were most likely to try more niche sauces with grilled chicken. In particular, 55% of consumers deemed themselves willing to try Sriracha with grilled chicken, compared to 41% with steak. In addition, 47% would try Honteri sauce with grilled chicken but only 43% with grilled salmon.

As every operator knows, consumers are far more health conscious than ever before. However, surprisingly, only 32% of those surveyed cite availability of low sugar and salt in sauces as important when dining out in a hospitality environment. This highlights to operators, that the emphasis on ‘healthiness’ should be focused on the dish itself and not the condiment.

Whilst operators should make sure they’re tapping into the latest flavour trends when it comes to sauces and condiments, forgetting the classics is not likely to sit well with consumers. Offering a balance between traditional and contemporary is key.

1 Mizkan, Annual condiments survey, 2017