Americans continue to discover the culinary adventure available from specialty foods including the broad category of condiments, which ranges from wing sauce and salsa to mayo and mustards. Specialty foods are becoming a larger, more integral part of the American diet, according to “Today’s Specialty Food Consumer,” an annual report from the Specialty Food Assn.
The $120.5 billion industry saw specialty food consumption jump significantly in 2016, with 60 percent of consumers across all age groups saying they have bought a specialty food in the previous six months, up from 47 percent in 2015. Specialty foods are defined as foods or beverages of the highest grade, style and/or quality in their respective categories. Their specialty nature derives from a combination of some or all of the following qualities: uniqueness, origin, processing method, design, limited supply, unusual application or use, extraordinary packaging or channel of distribution/sales.
Not surprisingly, millennials are the ones driving this growth. The purchasing patterns of millennials cover the widest range of categories and the most diverse retail channels. They are the most frequent purchasers of products such as chocolates, cookies, coffee, pasta and pizza sauces, ice creams and salsas and dips. But a little surprisingly, men are getting into condiments beyond ketchup and mustard. It was in 2015 when men surpassed women for the first time as the group more likely to buy specialty foods, and the gap widened in 2016.
“Discovering specialty food has become a core part of the younger consumers’ daily shopping routine,” says Phil Kafarakis, president of the Specialty Food Assn. “They are moving away from the staples that they grew up with and embracing the new tastes and flavors of specialty food.”
“People like mayonnaise for the rich flavor and creamy texture, but are hesitant to indulge because of the calorie and fat content. Our new line of Maio offers consumers a guiltless, better-for-you, creamy option without the sacrifice.” - Suzanne Ginestro, general manager, c-fresh innovation, Bolthouse Farms, a Campbell Soup Co.
Off the Shelf...
Wings and football go together seamlessly. Zach’s Spray Seasoning Inc. is doing its part to make sure there is no separation of sport and those beloved morsels of chicken goodness. The family-owned company says “spray the flavor” and is launching a line of spray-on-sauces just in time for the Super Bowl. The company is breaking the time-honored convention of tossing wings in sauce as these sauces are intended to be sprayed onto wings — or other chicken cuts — while being grilled on the barbecue. The condiment comes in five flavors packaged in a beer bottle with a trigger sprayer.
Campbell Soup Co. is rolling out Bolthouse Farms Maio, a new line of refrigerated, yogurt-based spreads made with clean ingredients. Its initial debut is scheduled for February in Northern California Safeway stores. The three craveable flavors — Chipotle, Garlic and Plain -- have the same creamy, rich texture people seek in a traditional mayonnaise but with lower fat and calories. Each product in the line contains only 20 calories and 1g fat per serving. The Maio spreads are non-GMO, gluten free, contain no artificial flavors, have 0g trans-fat. They come in 8-oz. bottles with a suggested retail price of $2.99.
Chef Auria Abraham is making her spicy condiments available in the retail sector. Hand-make and hand-packed, the line includes Auria’s Hot Chili Sambal, Lime Leaf Sambal, Pandan Kava and Salted Caramel Kava. Born and raised in a tiny town called Seremban in Malaysia, Auria grew up in the kitchen with her mother, who cooked sumptuous dishes with Chinese, Indian, Malay and Portuguese influences. After coming to the U.S. to study music, Auria found herself longing for the comfort of the food back home. More than anything, she missed her mom’s sambal. Now it’s available for all of America to enjoy.