Salad cream, brown sauce, English mustard and tomato ketchup: these are the celebrated mainstays of the greasy spoon fry-up or no-nonsense mid-week supper, best enjoyed with a cup of Rosie Lee or BLT – as British as Brexit.
But are the condiments of our childhoods in terminal decline, usurped by both their more sophisticated international cousins (bonjour aioli, hola hot sauce) and a new generation of healthier, no-added-salt, organic badge-wearing products?
According to a report published this week, French favourite mayonnaise has ‘toppled tomato ketchup as our favourite bottled sauce for the first time’. Industry figures show that sales of ketchup have dropped by 2.7 per cent to £145.5 million, while mayonnaise sales have risen by a not insignificant 6.9 per cent, up to £152.2 million.
A global industry report from Mordor Intelligence suggests that a change in lifestyle habits, an inclination to embrace new cultures, and the increased consumption of exotic flavours is hitting the ketchup market hard.
So should we be dipping our chips in the red stuff while we still can? Is it going the way of Gentleman’s Relish and anchovy sauce?
And which of our other classic condiments are at risk? And what’s replacing them?
Set for extinction or more popular than ever? The great British condiments… and their new competitors
Left on the shelf?
1. Heinz Ketchup
The UK is officially falling out of love with its best known ketchup brand. Sales of Heinz Tomato Ketchup plunged by 13 per cent last yeardue to younger buyers turning to exotic alternatives, according to reports last month. Supermarket sales of all ketchups are also down by 2.7 per cent, a fall of around six million bottles, according to The Grocer magazine.
2. Colman’s English Mustard
Heritage Norfolk brand Colman’s actually enjoyed an increased revenue last year, it was reported in the Eastern Daily Press – although largely as a result of price hikes, rather than burgeoning consumer sales.
3. Brown sauce
For many of us, a fry-up just wouldn’t taste right without it. But Britain seems to be well and truly off the sauce, after sales of HP sauce plummeted by 19 per cent in 2015. Sales for brown sauce generally, including products such as Heinz Daddies sauce, fell more than five per cent from 2015 -2016.
Love it or hate it, it seems Marmite is here to stay. This month, it launched a £3m ‘Gene Project’ campaign as a study revealed your preference is all down to your genes. Meanwhile, Marmite sales soared by an extra £335,000 last year after a high profile post-Brexit price row between Tesco and Unilever, the Daily Mail reported.
5. Branston Pickle
Branston Pickle was sold out in 2012 to a Japanese brand, Mizkan, in a£92.5m deal – but the winning blend of pickled carrot, swede, onion, cauliflower, marrow and gherkin, first manufactured in 1922 in Burton on Trent, is still a cheese sandwich stalwart.
6. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
This year, the Worcester News shared the news that at least 50 new jobs are set to be created in Worcester under a multi-million pound development by the city’s Lea & Perrins factory. Again though, their success of late may be more to do with a price hike rather than consumer popularity. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce has gone up by 25 per cent year-on-year, up to £1.50 for a 150ml bottle.
In the basket?
Despite ketchup falling from grace, Heinz enjoyed a 50 per cent rise in mayonnaise sales on the back of the launch of a premium range called Seriously Good. Mayonnaise as a whole, including popular brands like Hellmann’s, is up by 7.3 per cent in the year to April – a sign of our new preference for healthier foods and our increasing fondness for international cuisine.
2. Chilli sauce
Brits have got the hots for spicy sauce. Dubbed the ‘Nando’s effect’, sauces such as chipotle, piri piri, Sriracha hot sauce or jalapeño chilli ketchup are now prominent in restaurants and in pride of place at home too. According to The Caterer, we’re all getting hooked on capsaicinoids, the chemicals in chilli which gives us a “chilli-high.”
3. Soy sauce
Britain is experiencing a boom in oriental cuisine, with the poke bowl trend taking the UK food scene – and our Instagram feeds – by storm. According to Statista, in 2015 the sales value of soy sauce was approximately £4.4 million, a marked increase from previous years.
Sushi and bento chain Wasabi has become a firm fast food favourite of the high street, and The Belfast Telegraph even reported in February that Japanese wasabi (a plant of the Brassicaceae family, which includes cabbages, horseradish, and mustard) is now being grown commercially in Northern Ireland for the first time
5. Organic and ‘free from’
Heinz may have an organic range of ketchup themselves, but new players on the shopping list such as Mr Organic from Abel & Cole, The Foraging Fox Beetroot Ketchup at Waitrose and Meridian Organic Tomato Ketchup (available at Holland & Barrett) are carving out a market for themselves, even as our taste for the classic version recedes.
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