By considering dietary requirements in your condiment and sauce offering, each and every consumer can enjoy the process of ultimate customisation. Will Hawkes reports
Amy Moring had a very good reason to make a career out of condiments: she can't eat most mainstream brands. "I was diagnosed coeliac at 18 months old," Moring, the co-owner of Hunter & Gather, says. "Then,
Along with partner Jeff, she founded Hunter & Gather and brought their first product, classic avocado mayo, to market in late 2017. The company produces mayonnaise and oils that are free from, as they put it, "sugars, grains and poor-quality fats". "Everyone understands the value of] organic meat and choosing vegetables of the highest quality you can," she says. "But when it comes down to condiments, people slather tomato ketchup that's high in sugar, or other poor quality condiments, on their food."
Hunter & Gather is just one example of how condiments and sauces are rapidly diversifying as the sector continues to expand. The options have never been so interesting, from high-end restaurant options like wild mushroom salt, anchovy Hollandaise or smoked chilli, down to far more humble products. Many of these new options offer operators an easy and delicious way to diversify and stand out from the crowd.
Food for all
Perhaps the biggest food trend of the past few years has been the rise of veganism. More than 600,000 Britons are now vegans, according to the Vegan Society, with the 'plant-based' food market now worth £443m. There are a variety of reasons why this has happened - from concerns about animal welfare to the environment - but it's clear that health, and the perceived benefits of a plant-based diet, are central.
The same desire for a healthy option is behind Hunter & Gather, which has come a long way in just over a year. The company won two Great Taste awards in 2018, for its classic avocado oil mayo and extra virgin avocado oil, with judges praising the former's "citrussy, nutty, homemade-style [flavour]" and the latter's "buttery notes [and] gentle peppery mid-palate". The products are available in high-end stores - from Whole Foods to Ocado - and they supply catering tubs to restaurants: the Willow, a health-focused restaurant in Kingston, south London, is an early adopter.
"There's more people than we realised that, for whatever reason, haven't been able to have condiments for 15, 20 years or more, and now they are able to," says Moring. "We've given them that option.
"We cater for people who are vegan, paleo, keto - although keto and vegan are very opposite ends of the spectrum. For us, it's more down to the allergy side. My choice now is vegan mayo because I'm allergic to egg. We wanted to provide that choice.
"Our oils are all vegan, and we do have vegan shoppers, but I wouldn't say that we are solely a vegan business. The vegan mayo is quite innovative, actually, because unlike most of the vegan mayos on the market, it doesn't use some form of soy or other allergen in the form of aquafaba."
Vegan solutions are increasingly easy to come by. Brakes will soon be launching a "high-quality" vegan mayonnaise, according to development chef Oli Lloyd. "It can be mixed with other condiments and sauces to make many vegan-friendly alternatives," he says. "It could, for example, be mixed with our Spicentice chipotle seasoning to make a deliciously smoky and spicy mayonnaise." The new mayonnaise will join gluten-free options in the Brakes line-up: "Although making a sauce or condiment gluten-free generally has little impact on its quality, it does make it possible for chefs to create dishes for those who are gluten-intolerant," adds Lloyd.
Creative Foods Europe also has plenty of vegan options. Nigel Parkes, marketing director, explains: "We now manufacture a range of vegan burger sauces and mayos. We even produce a vegan 'blue cheese' sauce. As vegan sauces become less distinguishable from non-vegan, many restaurants are using vegan products across the board."
Heat continues to rise
Another key trend in recent years has been the burgeoning desire for heat and spice. At Meat Liquor, one of London's most fashionable mini-chains, this has gone hand-in-hand with the apparently unquenchable desire for burgers. Meat Liquor has recently added Frank's Red Hot chilli sauce to its line-up of condiments. "We've tried lots of other hot sauces and it's the one we love and the one people want," says co-owner Scott Collins.
Meat Liquor, which began on an industrial estate in Peckham in 2009, is also committed to classic French's Mustard. "Put simply, from Peckham to now, it's the only mustard we've ever used and the only one we would ever consider using - it's the market leader," says Collins.
Helen Hyde, business unit manager at Tabasco, agrees that consumers know what they want, and are becoming increasingly clued-up about pepper varieties. Chilli sauces were the most dynamic performer in 2017 with volume growth of 9% and current value growth of 10%, according to Euromonitor's 2017 data on sauces, dressings and condiments, she points out.
"Consumers have been moving away from traditional sauces and looking for spicier and more exotic variants to make their meals tastier," she says. "The consumer is becoming more aware of the actual pepper varieties themselves - such as chipotle, HabaÁ±ero and jalapeÁ±o."
This greater public knowledge about pepper varieties is driving innovation, according to Creative Foods Europe's Parkes. "It's no longer just about having chilli sauce, it's about what sort of chilli," he says. "To that end, Creative Foods' portfolio of products now includes a number with named chillies, such as fruity Amarillo dressing, scotch bonnet salsa and Louisiana barbecue with chipotle Tabasco sauce."
New and improved
Ross & Ross is best known for its bacon home-curing kits, but it had has recently expanded into the world of rubs and jams. Flavours for the latter include HabaÁ±ero and pineapple, smoky chipotle and sweet chilli and lime, says co-founder Ross Bearman.
"Condiments are often a forgotten afterthought, so it's important to have relish as part of the main selection or out in a prominent place to remind people to add as much or as little as they want to their meal," he advises. "One way to entice them to try is by intriguing them with names and flavour combinations that naturally pique their interest."
Chutneys are another growth area as interest in traditional food increases, and alongside companies like Rosebud Preserves - which produces a range of high-quality traditional products, such as piccalilli and fig chutney - Ross & Ross also offers a variety of chutneys.
"Terrines and cheeses can really be enhanced with the taste and texture of chutneys," Bearman says, "and Ross & Ross onion and ale chutney is the perfect complement. Most people will traditionally enjoy pairing up roast pork or ham with apple sauce, so add a new twist with a product such as the Ross & Ross smoked apple chutney, which provides the perfect balance of sweet, savoury and smoky in every bite."
Other innovators are bringing new flavours to the market. Mestiza Filipino Pickle is produced by entrepreneur Louise Campbell in Brighton; it's based on a traditional pickle from the Philippines, and made with grated unripe papaya and sugar cane vinegar. She recommends pairing it with barbecued pork, mackerel, classic British cheeses like Cheddar and Stilton - or enjoying it on its own.
A helping hand
There are plenty of options for operators making their own condiments and sauces. Lakeland Dairies has unveiled Pritchitts Millac Gold Single, a low-fat cream that thickens quickly when cooked, an advantage for those making sauces. "It has been created especially for cooking and offers a host of operational benefits for caterers," says Paul Chmielewski, head of marketing and international at Lakeland Dairies.
"It outperforms fresh cream, offering great value for money - and being neutral in flavour allows the other ingredients to shine through. Caterers no longer have to worry about curdling and ruined recipes: Millac Gold Single won't split, even when used with acidic ingredients such as wine or lemon juice."
Lion Foods, meanwhile, offers Sauceology, a saucy shortcut that puts a twist on classics. "It's a concept designed to help caterers keep up with the experimental trend, by using sauces as ingredients to be blended together and customised to create unique flavours," says Ben Bartlett, barbecue chef and brand ambassador for Lion sauces. "It brings together the convenience of ready-made sauces with the innovation of scratch cooking."
Good equipment is essential if you're planning to make your own, such as T&G's woodware mills, and blenders such as the Vitamix Vita-Prep 3 from Jestic Foodservice. "It is the trusted choice of catering businesses across the globe," says Michael Eyre, culinary director at Jestic. "A compact design, high-impact container and variable speed dial ensures a precision blend and full versatility, while the design makes the most of the often limited available space."
Creative Foods Europe www.creativefoodseurope.eu
Frank's Red Hot www.franksredhot.com
French's Mustard www.frenchsuk.co.uk
Hunter & Gather www.hunterandgatherfoods.com
Jestic Foodservice www.jestic.co.uk
Lakeland Dairies www.lakeland.ie
Lion Foods www.aakfoodservice.co.uk/lion-sauces
Mestiza Filipino Pickle www.mestizafilipina.co.uk
Ross & Ross www.rossandrossfood.co.uk
Rosebud Preserves www.rosebudpreserves.co.uk
T&G Woodware www.tg-woodware.com
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