Mainstream America's amped-up fascination with all things culinary has led us to tastes and flavors like umami, harissa and even tangy classic sauces that chefs have been working with (and enjoying) for years. Interest in condiments has grown as more consumers look to customize the heat or flavor intensity of the foods they enjoy and go on further flung flavor adventures.

‘Condiments and Sauces: Culinary Trend Mapping Report’ by leading market research publisher Packaged Facts and the Center for Culinary Development (CCD) reveals that this interest in bigger flavors that condiments and sauces provide so well will continue to drive the food market. Condiments and sauces are becoming an alluring way of attracting new business, especially in restaurants, where diners can experiment with new flavors at a relatively low cost to operators.

"Condiments and sauces are the fashion accessories of the culinary world, and today more than ever they are a necessary part of the ensemble as diners seek enhanced food experiences and more global flavors, especially in their home kitchens," says Kimberly Egan, CEO of CCD.

The report profiles several hot trends in the condiments and sauces segment using CCD's proprietary Trend Mapping methodology and offers strategic ideas for product development translation:

  • Poutine — This intriguing pile of French fries, cheese curds and brown gravy is appearing on fine dining menus and peeling out from the food truck scene. The gravy sauce and chewy cheese curds elevate fries to a new fork-required experience. Endless variations are possible, showing that meat and potatoes in snack form will be a winning combination whether in foodservice or even the freezer aisle.
  • Gastrique — The classic French reduction of sugar and vinegar is traditionally used in dishes with meat and fruit to balance out flavors — think duck à l'orange. Today chefs are using gastriques in new and exciting ways with meat, fish and even dessert. With the time-honored love for the marriage of sweet and sour, there is a huge opportunity for manufacturers to produce bottled gastriques for both cooking and cocktails.
  • Umami in a Bottle — While being a secret staple in the condiment shelf forever (ketchup is full of umami), it's coming into its own and being called out by name in several new seasoning products and even foodservice chains. Now is the ideal time to develop products and foodservice dishes that call out and underscore the umami experience, one that more consumers are understanding all the time.
  • Romesco — A traditional red pepper and ground almond sauce from the Catalan region of Spain, romesco enhances a number of new chain restaurant dishes. Romesco sauce presents a great opportunity for restaurateurs and food manufacturers to capitalize on Spanish global heritage and emphasize the sauce’s intense rich flavor, which can be used in dips, marinades and more.
  • Sriracha — A fiery sauce inspired by traditional Southeast Asian cuisines, sriracha has been hiding in restaurant kitchens for years for use with staff meals. Consumers craving heat and spice have since flocked to the stuff, turning it into a cult favorite. The passionate following from chefs and culinary consumers combined with Gen Y interest in global cuisines and extreme flavors sets up sriracha for continued market growth and popularity, whether in new variations of the original condiment or sriracha-enhanced products.
  • Aioli — The versatile French-inspired condiment, which is basically garlic mayonnaise, has infiltrated the U.S. market in every pocket of the food industry from fine dining to the Golden Arches. The ability to add a variety of non-garlic flavors (including lemon, basil, chipotle, parsley, harissa and avocado) while also delivering tasty, creamy richness drives home aioli's potential for new dips, spreads, condiments and accompaniments.
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