The latest news, views and insights in food trends
Product Marketing, Tastewise
The last few years have been chock full of innovation in the sauces and dressings category. At Tastewise, we believe sauces and dressings fit into this digital landscape really well - they typically (although not always) are easy to make, convenient additions to meals, and are pretty low-stakes experimentation - kind of like the ‘the gateway sauce’ into something else.
As people continue to hone their kitchen skills, and look for new ways to bring anything from functional health to kitchen travel to their plates, sauces are a great way to do it.
While sweet is the dominating flavor profile for sauces and dressings in the US, spicy has been on the rise: it is already up by 20% in consumer interest since the start of Covid, making the combination of both flavors in the sauces and dressings category a huge success.
Introducing: spicy honey
According to the Tastewise index, spicy honey has seen a +15% growth in social discussions over the past year.
In addition, when comparing spicy honey - used as both a condiment and dressing - to mature dressings in the condiment category (like Ketchup or Mayo) spicy honey placed 6 out of 10 with a trending lifecycle stage (in contrary to mature or declining lifecycle stages), which shows a fast-rising trend in the market and a serious consumer interest.
How do people use spicy honey in the kitchen?
The top-performing recipes using spicy honey as a dressing are for chicken dishes, with over 2K recipes in the US alone! Some of these recipes have a +70% YoY growth and over 600K saves, indicating serious consumer interest in spicy honey in home kitchens.
With such a massive impact, we expect that the spicy and sweet combo in the dressings and sauces category will continue to excite consumers and appear on more menus and online recipes.
Citrus and tropical flavors are making a splash in a few categories right now, and we expect that to continue to be true for sauces/dressings.
Yuzu -- which was on everyone’s 2022 prediction list! -- is an excellent example of the direction in which things are heading. Over the past year, the yuzu trend has grown 15% in social discussions when compared to the total food and beverage category, indicating that the citrus fruit is gaining traction in the mainstream.
But an even bigger impact can be seen in the sauces and dressings category, with a +43% YoY growth for yuzu, and 92% growth for yuzu paste in home cooking.
Over the past year, botanicals have grown by nearly 20% in social discussions in the total food and beverage category. But in the sauces and dressings category, the growth has been even more noticeable with an almost 30% YoY growth in consumer interest. That means that while botanicals are attracting interest across all categories, interest is particularly sharp in the sauces and dressing category.
This trend is expected to keep growing as consumers become more aware of the category’s applications outside of beverages. Examples include shiso leaves (a Japanese relative of mint), dandelion and more.
Following a pattern seen across the food and beverage space, specific health benefits - both functional health, and nutritional aspects - have seen significant growth over the past year in the dressings and sauces category.
Condiments that allow for customization around functional health are attracting attention; a particularly interesting example is Aioli, for which the fastest rising functional health claim is Immune System (growing 79% YoY in social discussions). Similarly, condiments that support clean eating experiences with low-or-no preservatives, processed ingredients, additives, etc. are on the rise. We’re already seeing “no preservative” dressings and sauces are 35% more popular than last year.
Kitchen travel, of particular relevance during the pandemic, has found new routes over the past year as people continue to use their kitchens (or restaurants!) to explore other cultures.
We’ll continue to see this moving forward in the coming years -- we’re already seeing it within the rising interest for global condiments like Amba (32% rise in menu mentions), Mexican mole (176% rise in social discussions since March 2020), and gochujang (31% in recipe mentions), and will continue to see expansion in this category for years.
The bottom line? Sauces are an opportunity for customizable additions to main dishes in both restaurants and at home, and offer significant avenues for innovation in home cooking, retail and foodservice.
Check your advance copy of our Flavor Trends 2023 report, launching soon!