Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Will Picnickers Relish Showy Sauces? ; Marketers Hope That 'GourMayo,' Others, Will Cut the Mustard with Consumers

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Will Picnickers Relish Showy Sauces? ; Marketers Hope That 'GourMayo,' Others, Will Cut the Mustard with Consumers

Article excerpt

That picnic table isn't getting smaller - just fuller. And it's not burgers and bratwurst pushing plates to the edge.

Instead, it's new bottles and bowls holding dips and dressings in an array of exotic new flavors and forms. Consider: French's GourMayo, Heinz Ketchup Kick'rs, Hellmann's Dippin' Sauce, Ranch Up! by Wish-bone, Party Bowls from Tostitos.

Hankering yet for some good old mustard?

For sure, that staple is still in many a refrigerator door. But in the midst of condiment season, Americans are also slathering on some new sauces.

Just what accounts for this invasion of flavors and "more convenient" dispensers? In a word, money, say food experts. In a few more words, consumers' desire for cheap, easy, and new products.

"Everybody has been to the Hard Rock Cafe once," says Joe Derochowski, national sales manager for NPD Foodworld, a market- research firm. "At the end of the day, we like to try new things."

Manufacturers understand this aspect of the Ameri- can psyche and are eager to mine it - and to feed sales of home-prepared foods.

Americans are eating out more, and even when they do stay in, meal preparation is limited, says Harry Balzer, a vice president with the NPD Group, of which Foodworld is a part. That means static condiment sales, leaving manufacturers jostling for a piece of the market.

"That's why you're seeing all these innovations," he says. "Companies are looking to provide new options ... to grab share."

For example, Heinz, which owns 60 percent of the total ketchup market, says spokesman Robin Teets, hit gold recently with its Easy Squeeze! bottle, an upside-down model. The bottle ensures that "your ketchup is always ready when you are," according to the company's website.

Easy Squeeze! claimed 10 percent of Heinz's overall share of that market last year. Then in the spring of 2002, Heinz launched Ketchup Kick'rs.

In Hot & Spicy, Zesty Garlic, and Smokey Mesquite flavors, Kick'rs have only about 1 to 2 percent of the total ketchup market. …

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