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Sauce INSIGHT Summer 2017 | issue 1 ISSN 2515-432X

The magazine for the global sauce, dressing and condiment industry

12 | Fighting fraud in the italian olive oil business

54 | sriracha on its global hot sauce domination

64 | the psychology of shopping for sauces


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le ad e r

Start-up Fired-up


e’ve made it through the first half of 2017. We’re still watching Donald Trump’s rocky start in the White House in bewilderment, and there’s still confusion surrounding the precise nature of Brexit, and yes this all follows after a year of political earthquakes worldwide. But along with the tumult, there’s been some positive things happen in 2017. There’s an increasingly eagle-eyed look at our environment and nature. This year India came together and planted a record breaking amount of trees in one day, with a total close to 50 million with 800,000 people in on the effort. We’ve also read about the Norwegian billionaire, who started out as a fisherman, is giving away most of his estimated USD 2.6bn fortune in a bid to help clean up the world's oceans. Our two comment pieces on bottling from industry experts address consumers changing behaviour towards waste and reducing environmental impact, and how the industry should be responding (pages 76 and 78). And for small businesses, entrepreneurship has never been more popular. In the UK, start-ups continue to soar this year and the British Government has pledged to do more to support businesses of all sizes. While in Australia, news recently broke that the NSW government is investing AUD 35M into a new startup hub in Sydney, which it hopes will create 6,500 new jobs by housing and supporting local and international entrepreneurs and innovators. Undoubtedly, it is an interesting time for the sauce, condiment and dressing industry. Consumers are becoming more selective, and as a result there’s more space for creative and innovative new products, and new takes on classics. Scott Norton, co-founder of Sir Kensington's, talks about bringing their range of new American condiments to market on page 30. Today’s consumer also wants choice. In a recent study by Technomic it was revealed that 40 percent of all consumers and 52 percent of millennials are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers new or innovative flavours. In this issue we speak to Maureen Suan Neo, founder of Nonya Secrets, about the well travelled


editor's choice Professor Charles Spence of Oxford University writes about the psychology and marketing of condiments. Charles explains what elements can influence the consumer's experience of the product's contents.- page 64

consumer’s desire for authentic food, and Suan Neo tells us about her sauces inspired by Nyona cuisine. But the big boys of sauce are still here, and they’ve got plenty of knowledge and experience. In a rare interview we speak to Tony Simmons, the fifth generation CEO of Tabasco, which was established in 1868. Simmons takes us behind the scenes of Tabasco, of one of the biggest hot sauce companies in the world – see page 20. As we launch our first ever issue of Sauce Insight, we are in the midst of an influx of new condiments finding their feet alongside established traditional companies. Our mission is to celebrate the innovators and the fresh thinkers who are shaping the industry today, to ask market leaders those pivotal questions, to provide thoughtful analysis, and insightful technical papers. We want to be the total package for you, our readers. Against the tumultuous backdrop of 2017, we want to help steer the development of your products, this year and beyond. S

Rhian Owen, Editor

Summer 2017


co ntac t s

contacts Rhian Owen Editor rhian@rebymedia.com +44 (0)1442 780 592 Jim Robertson Head of sales jim@rebymedia.com +44 (0)1442 780 593 Josh Henderson Sales executive josh@rebymedia.com +44 (0)1442 780 594

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Summer 2017

SUBscriptions Sauce Insight is a biannual magazine mailed every July and December. Subscriptions can be purchased for two or four. Prices for single issue subscriptions or back issues can be obtained by emailing: subscriptions@rebymedia.com

International One year: $39, two year: $69 The content of Sauce Insight is subject to copyright. However, if you would like to obtain copies of an article for marketing purposes high-quality reprints can be supplied to your specification. Please contact the advertising team for full details of this service. Sauce Insight is printed at Stephens & George Print Group, Merthyr Tydfil, UK.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system, without the express prior written consent of the publisher. The Sauce Insight ISSN 2515-4311 (or digital ISSN 2515-432x) is published bimonthly by Reby Media, 42 Crouchfield, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP1 1PA. Subscription records are maintained at Reby Media, 42 Crouchfield, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP1 1PA. Sauce Insight accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of statements or opinion given within the magazine that is not the expressly designated opinion of the magazine or its publishers. Those opinions expressed in areas other than editorial comment may not be taken as being the opinion of the magazine or its staff, and the aforementioned accept no responsibility or liability for actions that arise therefrom.

Sauce Insight

t ac nt

y er xt liv ne ry de K e al U liv ation ee de ern Fr ay or int d sf



Ensuring consistency The CONSISTOMETER is an instrument used to determine the consistency of viscous materials by measuring the distance that the material flows under its own weight in a given time interval. The instrument allows producers of such viscous products as jellies, preserves, sauces, etc, to predetermine formulas for their product and to standardize production lots. The consistency of a sample is measured by its resistance to flow under specific conditions, for a specified time. The Bostwick Consistometer is one of many instruments designed to make such measurements. The Consistometer is manufactured from stainless steel engraved with a series of precise graduations at 0.5cm intervals. The sample is initially retained in a reservoir behind a spring-loaded gate prior to testing. The Consistometer is made of 316 Stainless Steel (Food Grade) stain-resistant material. It consists of a trough divided into two sections by a gate. The smaller section serves as a reservoir for the material to be tested. The larger has laser etched graduated measurement lines along the bottom in one centimetre divisions beginning at the gate. The gate is spring-operated and is held by a trigger that permits instantaneous release. In operation, the gate slides vertically in the grooves of two posts extending upward from the sides of the trough. The L-shaped trigger release hooks over the top of the gate to hold it in a closed position. Two levelling screws are located at the reservoir end of the trough and a circular spirit level is located at the other end of the trough. Make sure the gate is fully closed before filling the reservoir. The reservoir should always be filled completely to the top. A material should always be tested as quickly as possible after being removed from the constant temperature oven or bath to prevent any consistency changes caused by temperature change or exposure to air.

MAINTENANCE No maintenance should be necessary except occasional checking of the level and cleaning of the troughs after each test. OPERATION Fill the reservoir with the material to be tested and level off the top with a spatula or other straight-edge. Press down on the trigger to open the gate and, at the same time, start a stopwatch. At the end of the selected time period, determine how far the material has flowed along the trough. Take the maximum reading at the centre of the trough and the minimum reading at the edge of the trough, and average the values. The average value is then compared against a previously determined standard. When using the Consistometer, make certain that the gate is fully closed before filling the reservoir. The reservoir should always be filled completely to the top. A material should always be tested as quickly as possible after being removed from the constant temperature oven or bath to prevent any consistency changes caused by temperature change or exposure to air.

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co nte nt s

contents 42


64 30


COVER: the patriarch of TAbasco 20 - Tabasco CEO Tony Simmons, a fifth generation of the McIlhenny family, talks to editor Rhian Owen about what goes on behind the scenes at Avery Island, where the fiery condiment is made

The Italian job 12 - The olive oil industry has been racked by fraud. Industry pioneers argue eduction is the only means to combat it.

testing for allergens 60 - Every food producer wants to avoid allergen contaminations in their products.

The Psychology of Condiments The American Condiment Dream 30 - Sir Kensington's is disrupting the US condiment industry with their take on the classics

beetrooty business 36 - UK-based beetroot condiment company, The Foraging Fox, is going global at speed.

the david tran way 42 - Sriracha makes strides in the global hot sauce industry in an unconvential way

64 - Colour – of the packaging and the condiment itself – is undoubtedly important as far as signalling the product is concerned.

packaging focus 72 - How to identify and prevent product mislabelling in condiments 76 - Is glass the perfect package? Marie-Laure Sussett and Ruth Woodley layout the arguments

back page flavour behaviour 50 - Maureen Suan Neo, founder of Nonya Secrets, says Southeast Asian food – and its more unusual specialities – are surging in popularity

from the spice garden of india 54 - Spice Drops are manufactured in South India using locally sourced raw materials.


Summer 2017

80 - Business partners and friends Marifer Vergara and Gina Eckstadt are aiming to create a veggie-packed condiment empire. Also in the issue: 3 - Leader 8 - News 82 - Dates and events

Sauce Insight

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n e ws

UK FSA warns on Norovirus N

ew research published by the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) reveals that poor personal hygiene has

been identified as one of the main sources for spreading norovirus in catering establishments. The failure of food handlers to wash their hands properly, has been identified as one of the main sources for spreading norovirus. The FSA study was carried out by Ipsos MORI, aims to help stop the bug from spreading, by understanding and improving food handler behaviours. The study found further evidence in catering establishments that needs to be rectified along with inadequate hand washing. This includes not washing hands before gloving; using bare hands when preparing food; not regularly changing gloves; food handlers instead of trained staff cleaning areas where people vomited; not washing uniform correctly; and returning to work too early after being ill. The FSA reported that participants in the research

The FSA stated that due to the strong evidence

has an awareness of the term 'norovirus', but knowledge

supporting inadequate knowledge of how to stop

about it was typically low. There was often a lack of

Norovirus from spreading, the agency recommends

knowledge or confusion about what norovirus was, and

educational training for food handlers. The FSA in

how it was contracted and transmitted. There was little

currently exploring the design and delivery of future

evidence to support that norovirus was a big concern.


Unilever rejects Kraft Heinz’s merger proposal

missions. Sir Kensington’s, which launched in 2010, has a product offering that includes mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, and


ritish-Dutch multinational consumer goods firm

a vegan mayo made from aquafaba called Fabanaise.

Unilever has rejected American food giant Kraft

Unilever stated that Sir Kensington’s business aligns

Heinz’s merger proposal worth US $143bn. A combination would be the third-biggest takeover in history and the largest acquisition of a UK-based company, according to Thomson Reuters data. However,

with its visions to make sustainable living commonplace and will complement the company’s current portfolio of products in its foods category. “We are excited to bring Sir Kensington’s into the

the food company dropped its plans on Unilever after

Unilever family. Their mission to bring ‘integrity and charm

finding it too difficult to pursue a transaction.

to ordinary and overlooked food’ is very much in line with

A joint statement released by Unilever and Kraft Heinz

our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan,” said Kees Kruythoff,

read: “Unilever and Kraft Heinz hereby announce that

president, Unilever North America. “Sir Kensington’s is

Kraft Heinz has amicably agreed to withdraw its proposal

an innovative business with outstanding products and a

for a combination of the two companies.

leader in the organic and natural marketplace. We look

“Unilever and Kraft Heinz hold each other in high

forward to leveraging our joint understanding of food

regard. Kraft Heinz has the utmost respect for the culture,

trends and consumer preferences to significantly grow

strategy and leadership of Unilever.”

the business.”

Unilever to acquire Sir Kensington’s

acquisition aligns perfectly with our global Sustainable Nutrition strategy, moving us forward on our mission to


ew York organic and natural condiment business,

delight consumers, produce delicious food with less

Sir Kensington’s, will partner with Unilever in a deal

impact on the environment and promote nutritious

that sees both companies strengthen their sustainability


Matthew McCarthy, VP of Foods, Unilever North America, added: “Sir Kensington’s is a beautiful brand. The

Summer 2017


Sauce Insight

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U.S. sodium reduction in sauce A

ccording to study by JAMA Internal Medicine, part of the Journal of the American Medical Assn, the

amount of sodium that US households acquired from packaged food and beverage purchases decreased significantly – by 12 percent – between 2000 and 2014. The research, released in June 2017, revealed that sodium consumption decreased by 396mg per day during this period. The study had a sample of 172,042 households (754,608 year-level observations), using the Nielsen Homescan Consumer Panel. While reductions were seen in all top food sources of sodium between 2000 and 2014, they were particularly significant in condiments, sauces and dips (-114mg/100g). While significant progress toward sodium reduction in US packaged foods was achieved, continued efforts are needed to prevent excess sodium intake, the study noted. 98 percent of households were still using products with more sodium than “optimal levels” (1.1mg/kcal or less). The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that Americans consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day as part of a healthy eating pattern, and ideally no more than 1,500 mg per

Sovos Brands announces acquisition of Rao’s Specialty Foods business


day. Based on these guidelines, the vast majority of adults eat more sodium than they should – an average of more than 3,400 mg each day. The study was conducted by Jennifer Poti, Elizabeth Dunford and Barry Popkin, all PhDs.

portfolio we are creating of one-of-a-kind brands in the food and beverage sector,” said Todd Lachman, President and CEO of Sovos Brands. “Its unwavering commitment to authentic, delicious-

ovos Brands, a new San Francisco-based food and

tasting products using only the highest quality

beverage company formed by Advent International

ingredients aligns with our strategy of partnering with

private equity investors, announced this month that

unique brands that are in demand with discerning

it has agreed to acquire Rao’s Specialty Foods. As


Sauce Insight went to press the deal ws expected to be completed in the third quarter of this year. Established in 1992, Rao’s Specialty Foods produces Rao’s Homemade, a premium pasta sauce, as well as producing premium dry pasta, dressings, marinades, olive oils, vinegar, tomatoes and fire-roasted red peppers.

"Working alongside the company’s talented management team, we see numerous opportunities to grow the Rao’s Homemade brand and expand Rao’s Specialty Foods into adjacent food categories.” Eric Skae, CEO of Rao’s Specialty Foods, added: “We are thrilled to join the Sovos Brands family. Since 1992

Rao’s Specialty Foods is the second acquisition in

we have been the leading brand in the premium pasta

less than six months for Sovos, which seeks to acquire

sauce category by a wide margin, and as we enter our

and build value in one-of-a-kind food and beverage

25th year, we are committed to maintaining our top

brands. In January 2017, the company purchased

position in the space.

Michael Angelo’s Gourmet Foods, a leading producer of premium, authentic frozen Italian entrées. Sovos stated that it focuses on high-quality brands

"With the resources and expertise of Sovos and Advent, we will be in an even stronger position to pursue the significant growth opportunities ahead of us. We

in on-trend categories with the potential to accelerate

look forward to expanding our product offering and

growth by investing in distribution, marketing, production

introducing more consumers to the authentic taste of

and product innovation.

our pasta sauces and other specialty foods.”

“Rao’s Specialty Foods is a great addition to the


Summer 2017


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craft beer salsa for texas F

amily-owned Renfro Foods recently launched its

kept exclaiming that not only was it delicious but was

20th salsa, the Mrs Renfro’s Craft Beer Salsa. Teaming

super on-trend and wanted to do something which rarely

up with fellow Fort Worth, Texas business, Rahr & Sons Brewing Company, the new condiment is a blend of the usual salsa spices and Texas Red amber lager. “We did our first seasonal item, Pumpkin Salsa, last

happens – put it in stores immediately.” Fritz Rahr, president of Rahr & Sons, said: “We take great pride in being a locally owned family business, so it was a natural fit to team up with our neighbours over at

year and it was a huge hit,” said Renfro food president

Mrs Renfro’s who operate in a similar manner. Chips and

Doug Renfro. “So we wanted to do another one for this

salsa are a staple snack here in Texas and Mrs Renfro’s

fall. As we’re thinking of this, Fritz Rahr was looking to be

takes great care and pride in offering up the best salsa

involved with a salsa project. This seemed like a no-

in the country, so it just made sense to develop a Texas

brainer for us to work with a local microbrewery and to do

Craft Beer Salsa partnership. Working with their team

something really innovative like Craft Beer Salsa.”

on the recipe was a lot of fun and we had no shortage

The salsa was introduced at the Winter Fancy Food

of ‘sample tasters’ here at the brewery throughout the

Show in San Francisco earlier this year. “After two hours,

development process. I think we landed on a solid final

we changed it from seasonal to a permanent item,” said

product and we are proud to display the Rahr & Sons logo

Renfro. “Huge major retailers from all over the country

on the Mrs Renfro’s salsa label.”

Tessemae’s develops line of organic condiments


essemae’s has developed a full line of organic condiments to be merchandised in the produce

department alongside the current salad dressing line up. The portfolio includes buffalo sauces, mayonnaise, mustards, BBQ sauce and ketchup, the company announced recently. The products will be launched in American retailing company, Kroger, this month. Ketchup, BBQ, and Mayo

that with true, clean label offerings that have a very unique flavour profile which consumers love.”

‘Hidden veggie’ ketchup firm launches new product


etter Ketchup, based in South Florida, has recently launched a new product, Veg’d Organics Veggie

Ketchup. The ketchup is made from natural and certified organic ingredients. Veg’d Organics Veggie Ketchup is made with ‘hidden

will be available to consumers next to the current

veggies’, offering consumers a vegetable-based ketchup

dressing line in the refrigerated produce section.

alternative with half the sugar and calories than some

Tessemae’s stated that Target and Meijer will continue

other ketchup brands. It is expected to appeal to both

to carry Tessemae’s condiments and the company has

the teen and younger child demographic as it is made

an aggressive roll-out plan with other key retail partners

with tomatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash,

for the balance of the year.

carrots and beets.

Greg Vetter, CEO of Tessemae’s, said: “The millennial

The company’s objective is to inspire people

mom is dictating a majority of the food trend changes

to eat more vegetables and become healthier by

today that will continue over the next decade. She

creating delicious and nutritious variations of everyday

wants a clean, delicious tasting option for her family

condiments and sauces.

and that ranges from organic produce all the way to

“To ensure food security and healthy living, we

fresh condiments. You shouldn’t have to compromise on

partnered with USA-based organic farms to source

ketchup for your kids just because ‘it’s always been done

our vegetable purees. Our certified organic ingredients

this way’. Our condiments change the way you view

come to our facility from the agricultural rich state of

what’s good for you.”

Washington”, said Marifer Vergara, the founder of Better

Vetter added that Tessemae’s would not change formulas or adding ingredients for the sake of cutting

Ketchup. The company has engaged the services of Chef

costs or pleasing investors: “The condiment category

Gina Eckstadt who has worked for several James Beard

in the US is now over US $6bn in sales but has not

Certified Chefs along with stints at JW Marriott and Ritz-

experienced the growth that we think it can because

Carlton properties.

there has been no real innovation. We are here to disrupt


Summer 2017

Sauce Insight


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i n s i g ht




The Italian Job The brazen fraud prevalent in the olive oil industry can result in economical losses, disloyal competition among producers, and a break in public trust. Alun Johns of Pomora, and olive oil expert Judy Ridgway, explain that allround better education on extra virgin olive oil is essential

According to Italian press, prosecutors maintain that the gang imported cheap and low quality olive pomace oil – the leftover oil squeezed out of pulp after the first and second presses – and mis­labeled it as extra virgin olive oil. The counterfeit oil entered the supply chain in Milan and was sold on to retail chains in the US, including outlets in New York, Boston and Chicago. “There are repetitive instances where people are getting caught with their pants down for olive oil fraud,” says Alun Johns, one of the founding partners of Pomora, an Italian extra virgin olive oil producer. “There are a

by Rhian Owen

couple of incidents in Italy in the last year or so, and the Italians are taking it a lot more seriously now too, because


they understand the potential damage to their reputation

this year, Italy’s military force, the Carabinieri, arrested

are trained to a standard in order to identify when oil is

33 suspects in the Calabrian mafia’s Piromalli clan,

fraudulent by using their pallets.”

live oil has historically been one of the

as the premium producer in the world. If they’re passing

most frequently adulterated agricultural

dodgy stuff off, their reputation will take a hit. So they put

products in the European Union, and

a little more resource into it and take it pretty seriously.”

despite reports emerging globally of olive oils being cut with cheaper seed oils,

fraud is still prevalent today. But, in Italy, a crackdown is taking place. Earlier

a criminal enterprise whose illicit dealings allegedly

The Carabinieri now has 60 trained tasters, who are allegedly able to detect counterfeit olive oils at first taste. “It is relatively recent that they’ve upped their game,” adds Johns. “In Italy the special police squad of olive oil tasters

However, Judy Ridgway, a recognised olive oil expert

include exporting fake extra virgin olive oil to the US. The

and co-author of The Olive Oil Diet, believes that it

Calabrian mafia is believed to be the wealthiest, most

is inherently difficult to know if olive oil fraud is more

powerful criminal network in Italy, and the Piromalli are

commonplace today. “While there has been a lot more

believed to be a leading clan within that organisation.

reporting of problems abroad nowadays, and I think


Summer 2017

Sauce Insight

i n s i g ht




people are much more aware of fraud today, I don’t know

product), but do not meet the standards set for extra

if fraud is more prevalent now or not,” says Ridgway. “One

virgin olive oil.

of the problems is that there are different methods for

“Extra virgin” is a narrowly defined grade of olive

adulteration and some of those methods are difficult to

oil. In the EU and the US, trade standards require that

detect at low level. What’s more, the people that want to

extra-virgin olive oil has excellent flavour and odor and

do adulterate the oil are trying to find new ways of doing it

a free fatty acid content, expressed as oleic acid, of

that are not traceable.”

not more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams. However, new methods of chemical refinement, commonly known

Infiltrating extra-virgin

as “deodorisation,” allow producers to remove sensory defects and sell their inferior oils, illegally, as extra-virgin. However, extra-virgin olive oil cannot have undergone


ince extra-virgin olive oil is the most valuable

chemical manipulation.

oil category, shady producers and dealers have

Ridgway explains that there can sometimes be

plenty of incentive to defile it in hopes of reaping

confusion over what counts as adulterated oil. “There

more profit. Olive oil adulteration can result in economical

are obvious ways of adulterating extra virgin olive oil,

losses, but also disloyal competition among producers,

by mixing it with refined oils, and that’s definitely fraud,”

and a break in consumer trust.

says Ridgway. “However, if you go into the supermarket

Not only can extra virgin olive oils by contaminated

today and taste the oils and find some that have faults, it

by seed oils such as hazelnut and sunflower, but there

is not necessarily adulteration. Olive oil deteriorates over

is misuse of the label “extra virgin” on olive oils, including

time, no matter how well it is looked after. If it is looked

virgin olive oils which are still unrefined products (as

after badly then it will deteriorate more quickly. If you find

opposed to to non-virgin olive oil which is a refined

a faulty oil on the shelf it might be because it has been


Summer 2017

Sauce Insight




i n s i g ht

kept under bright lights or in the window, which means

two growers plain oils against each other because they

it shouldn’t be on sale but it hasn’t been adulterated.

are completely different in flavour profile. Carmillo’s, our

Defining what percentage those are is very difficult

Sicilian grower, is all about the fruitiness at the front of the

indeed. I get people calling me up from time to time

pallet, whereas Antonio our mainland grower is all about

asking me how much faulty oil I think is on the shelf, and I

the backend, the bitterness and the pungency. When

really have no idea. It varies from country to country.

you talk someone through that and explain the three dimensions - fruitiness, bitterness, and pungency - that


correspond to the different sections of the tongue, people really begin to get it. It’s a bit like tasting wine.”


Ridgway believes the best line of defence against

hen it comes to preventing fraud, education

fraud is to educate the buyers responsible for choosing

is key. “One of the scary things is that the

which olive oils get stocked in supermarkets and gourmet

industry is not being led by consumers

stores. If they had better training they could identify which

complaining that their olive oil doesn’t taste right, and if 70

products were likely to be fraudulent. “One of the things

percent of olive oil isn’t up to the required standard, then

I find in the wholesale and retail market is that people

it probably highlights a failing in education in consumers’

taste the oil when they choose it, but then they don’t taste

ability to be able to tell what is a good olive oil as much as

it when it arrives, they assume people are honest,” says

the flaw within the market. It’s that ignorance that allows

Ridgway. “They might be, but there could have been a

the fraud to persist.”

problem in transport or something could have happened

Johns adds that Pomora tries to teach people how

from the mill to getting to you. Check the paperwork,

to taste extra virgin olive oil, showing consumers what

taste it, and if you’re storing it then taste it every three

they should be looking for. “It is interesting to taste our

months. The number of times I’ve gone to wholesalers


Summer 2017





i n s i g ht

and found one faulty oil among what they have and they

a producer you have a traceability system, and then

had no idea. It was probably alright when it first arrived, or

it’s much less likely to be adulterated. It’s much more

when they tasted it. It’s that sort of care and attention that

difficult because if you can trace back to what farm the

will make a difference.”

olives came from, then that is not going to be a system

While we are in the midst of a market peppered

where adulteration happens. However, some of the

with fraudulent oils (some studies put fake oil on the

bigger producers are now starting to put traceability

marketplace up to 80 percent), many oils are not from

systems into place.”

Italy as the label suggests and have been mixed with

Perfect Provenance

other oils of dubious provenance. “Some of the big labels will tell you that the product is from Italy, Spain, Greece and Tunisia, even if it is marketed as a ‘Italian extra virgin’ product,” says Johns. “Essentially, they are vacuuming up any oil they can get their hands on at the minimum possible price, just chucking it all together, and spitting out in my view quite a bland product.” Ridgway adds: “Large Individual firms buy olive oil on


omora believes it essential that consumers know exactly what is in their food and where it comes from. The company uses two growers in Italy –

Antonio, whose olive groves are located in the region of Campania in southern Italy, and Carmelo, whose olive

the international market. They blend, pack and brand,

groves are rooted in the volcanic soil of the lower slopes

but don’t produce any oil themselves. At the other end of

of Mount Etna. Johns says he works directly with their

the industry you have smaller companies, perhaps family

growers, who keep records providing traceability of the oil

companies, producing maybe up to 70,000 litres, and

all the way back to the grove.

they’ll only be using their own groves to make oil.” Therefore, unless consumers buy it directly from a

“When somebody adopts a tree, they get their own nominated tree over in Italy,” explains Johns. “Our

producer or a certified distributor, the olive oil in their

guys look after it for them and every quarter they get

kitchen marked ‘Italian extra virgin’, might not be. “You

a shipment of olive oil from their own tree. It’s a slight

should know your oil producer – does he care about

exaggeration that it comes from their own tree, because

his product or does he want to produce as much as

there is a minimum of about 20 trees that have to be

possible? This is only any use at the higher end of the

processed together due of the nature of the pressing

market, because when you get cheap oil then they tend

machinery, therefore to say that it comes from a

to be more mass produced,” says Ridgway. “If you have

subsection of a grove, is more accurate. However, with a


Summer 2017


i n s i g ht




little bit of poetic licence, we say it comes from their tree.” “Perfect provenance is absolutely essential,” says Johns. “We can trace all of our tins back to the tree source; we are part of the ‘farm-to-table’ movement – that's to forge direct links between producer and consumer, and also a short supply chain.” And the ‘farm-to-table’ movement has run wild. The term is so commonly used today that it has inspired its own abbreviation, F2T. It is a movement taking place all across the world, with local produce being used in new and imaginative ways. In particular, the olive oil market has become synonymous with the ‘farm-to-table’ movement, or F2T, and important to consumers who demand and pay for high-quality oils. There is great potential of different authenticity methods, and the future tends to point to the use of sensitive technologies such as quantitative real-time PCR methods, which involve the amplification of DNA fragments using specific or arbitrary primers.

Affecting the Market


ccording to IndexMundi, consumption of olive oil has increased more than 10-fold in the US over the past 35 years, from 29 metric tons (MT) in

reported to us that he is down to 20 percent yield. So

1980 to 327 MT in 2015. It is something of a paradox that

that’s a pretty substantial hit. To these guys, what we’ve

as consumer demand for extra virgin olive oil soars, a

agreed with them is that we will pay them double from

massive output of low-quality, flawed olive oils, marketed

the previous year. And that is part of our principles, and

fraudulently, are penetrating the marketplace. Meanwhile,

that comes out of our margin. Effectively it damages our

honest producers around the world are being undercut

business, which has not been helped by Brexit and the

by these cheaper sub-par oils.

change in the exchange rate. However, it is one of our key

“This absolutely puts a pressure on businesses,”

principles and something we are going to uphold.”

Johns. “A key thing for Pomora is having a very short

The supply volatility comes at a time when global

supply chain. We work with two small independent

demand for extra virgin olive oil increases, and Ridgway

growers in Italy. They look after the trees, they harvest,

explains that this is growing thanks to its health benefits.

they press, they bottle for us, they put it on a pallet and

“Provided the price doesn’t go through the roof, and

ship the pallet over to the UK and we we give it to our

provided we get back the normal production years, then I

customers. That is the entire supply chain. We know

think the health benefits of olive oil will be quite a driving

exactly where those olives have come from, whose

force in its consumption,” Ridgway says. “Polyphenols

hands have touched them. It’s perfect provenance. This

are the buzzword at the moment. It is now possible to

also means we don’t have a whole stream of middle

measure the Polyphenols in an oil, and this is what people

men taking cuts out of the revenue, so we are able to

are looking for.”

pass on a much greater proportion of the value within

Polyphenols are one type of health-protective

that supply chain to the growers. So they get a much

antioxidants that are found in extra virgin olive oil. Like

higher percentage value from working with us than by

other antioxidants, polyphenols fight oxidative stress and

selling to one one of the big boys.”

may fight against aging-related diseases such as heart

The weather also affects olive oil production. Last year, Italy was stung by a shockingly bad season and

disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and certain types of cancer.

erratic weather in the country continues. Prices for extra

There’s a lot to consider with olive oil production; it’s

virgin olive oil in Italy have soared almost one-third since

cyclical. Amidst the penetration of fraudulent oils and the

October last year to €5.75 (US $6.15) a kilogram.

routes to total traceability, there’s good weather years,

“2016 was terrible,” says Johns. “Harvests are down in some places to 40 percent yield; our sicilian grower has


Summer 2017

followed by bad weather years, pests, and disease. “It’s very fragile,” sums up Ridgeway. S

Sauce Insight

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The patriarch of Tabasco Tabasco president and CEO, Tony Simmons, took the reins of the family-run McIlhenny Company in 2013 following the death of his father. Simmons, a fifth generation of the McIlhenny family, talks to editor Rhian Owen about what goes on behind the scenes at Avery Island, where the fiery condiment is made

Tabasco recipe, and sold his first sauce in 1869. Tabasco’s popularity grew quickly. By 1872 Tabasco was being distributed throughout the Northeast of the US, and it wasn’t long until it became available across the world. “We have a letter in our archives here on Avery Island graciously donated to us from the UK,” begins Tony Simmons, president and CEO, McIlhenny Company. “It is a letter from a British soldier serving in India in the 1880s and he was writing to his mother back in England. He had just tried this wonderful product made in America called Tabasco sauce and in his letter he asks if she could find


some in England and send to him to make his food taste better, and by the way she might want to buy some for


herself as well. So we know we’ve been making our way

nce upon a time, in 1866, Edmund McIlhenny – Tony Simmons’ great,

around the world since the 1880s.” Today, the McIlhenny Company makes eight different

great grandfather – began growing

Tabasco products, along with the original Tabasco

and experimenting with peppers on

Original Red Pepper Sauce. It is shipped to more than

Avery Island, Louisiana. McIlhenny, a

185 countries and bottled in 22 languages and dialects.

former New Orleans banker unable to find work after the

Tabasco’s accolades also include being awarded a Royal

American Civil War, tended to his Tabasco pepper plants

Warrant by the Queen of England, which is given to

growing up the side of the chicken coup, honed the

individuals or companies who have supplied goods or


Summer 2017

Sauce Insight

Tabasco CEO Tony Simmons tends his crop on Avery Island

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Right: CEO Tony Simmons inspects the mash every day he is on the island

services to the Royals for at least five years, it is on the

want to bring in and train family members to run our

menu of NASA's space shuttle programme, and is served

business, but at the same time we do not want to fill up

aboard Air Force One.

the ranks of our senior management with family members who may not be as good as we can get in those

A Family Affair

positions,” says Simmons. “We have a succession system, so if we are going to hire you to work here as a family


estled in the marshes of Southwest Louisiana, Avery Island – liana-strewn and brimming with wildlife – is remote, isolated, and has always

member, it is because we believe that you have the ability to one day run the company.” This is the way the McIlhenny Company has always operated. “ We’re a little different than some family

been the location of the Tabasco family business. Like

businesses in that we don’t hire a lot of family members to

many family members working summers on the island

come and work for us. We are a fifth generation company,

either picking peppers or working in the company’s

not many family operated companies come as far as we

general store, Simmons worked at the company’s private

have, we we think our method works pretty well.”

island as a youngster. “I spent every summer as a child and a young adult

Simmons is right. According to the US’ Family Firm Institute, only about 30 percent of family businesses

working at Avery Island until I was 18 years old,” Simmons

survive into the second generation, 12 percent are still

says. “We offer employment to our high school and

viable into the third generation, and only about three

college age cousins to come and work with us in the

percent of all family businesses operate into the fourth

summers. After some time away, I came back [Simmons

generation or beyond.

spent 25 years working for Manitowoc Cranes, before

Not all family members want to work at Avery

he eventually returned to the McIlhenny Company in

Island either. Except from employees living there (the

2000]. The company’s VP, Harold Osborn, came back as

company owns 60 houses on the island that are leased

well – he worked here for many summers when he was

to employees), Avery Island is mainly inhabited by

young. The only other family member currently working

indigenous plants and wildlife. A nature lover’s paradise

in the business is my son John [Simmons]. John worked a

perhaps, but not so appealing to most twentysomethings

number of summers here as a young man.”

who may prefer the bustling of New Orleans, which lies

While the McIlhenny Company is operated by an eight-member board that is largely made up of the

some 140 miles away. “Avery Island is a remote place. There is no nightlife,

extended family, in practice only two to four family

and you can’t even get a pizza delivered here. It’s not

members ordinarily run the company.

only a matter of a young person accepting that they

“We want to be a family operated business and we


Summer 2017

live in a very remote location where there is no nightlife,

Sauce Insight

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there are also no social activities whatsoever. They are

people tell me is, ‘Tony, your product is too thin, or it’s

probably going to be married and they have to be a family

too vinegary’. The reason Tabasco is this consistency

member whose spouse is prepared to accept that type of

is that the pepper itself is so hot that if we left the kind

environment as well,” says Simmons.

of solids in Tabasco that you see in a cayenne-based pepper sauce, Tabasco would be so hot that most people

A Good Seed

couldn’t eat it. That’s why Tabasco a thinner product, more like an infused vinegar. Those three ingredients – red pepper mash, vinegar, and a little bit of salt – are the only


abasco has been made on the island since its invention, and the recipe has remain unchanged for 149 years. To make the Tabasco Original Red

ingredients used.” Each January, seeds of tabasco peppers are planted in greenhouses. Seedlings are then transplanted to the

sauce, you only need a few things: peppers, salt, and

fields on Avery Island in April. By August, the peppers

vinegar. “Most pepper sauces are made from a cayenne

reach just the right shade of red and are handpicked. “A

peppers, but Tabasco is much hotter, and so our product

lot of that pepper that we harvest is used to make seed,

is different,” explains Simmons. “One of the things that

and once we’ve created that seed we will ship it to our


Summer 2017

Sauce Insight


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Creating TAbasco

growers in South America who then plant the product, grow it out, harvest it and ship it back to us as ground-up red pepper mash.” The seeds for all the peppers grown for Tabasco originate on the island, says Simmons. “All of our tabasco plants are an heirloom of that one Tabasco plant that my


n the island, the pepper mash is aged in 50,000 ex-bourbon barrels. The barrels are first decharred and re-hooped, as the acidity of the

great, great grandfather was growing in the late 1860s.

mash would eat right through the typical barrel hoops.

The seed is a very, very important part of Tabasco.”

The pepper mash then ages in a barrel for three years,

So important in fact, that the precious pepper seeds

before Tabasco is made. “From the time we start the

have their own designated bank vault. “We have seeds

process to getting that product on the table, it’s about five

in a vault, and we also maintain a seed history of up to 10

years. Nobody is doing what we do in sauces. It’s more

years. So if we plant and find that we have a problem with

like making wine,” says Simmons.

the seed, and it’s in the seed itself, we can keep going

After 149 years, this is business perfected. Unlike

back up to 10 years until we find seeds that do not have

wine, there are not better vintages of Tabasco, explains

the issue.”

Simmons. “We’ve been doing this for so long, we think we


Summer 2017


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have a pretty good handle on how to keep it consistent,”

should. We’re only as good as the last time you tried us. It

says Simmons. “Different things may have an impact, but

has to be right every single time.”

we know how to mitigate that in our process.

A New Era

“We only use the reddest, ripest peppers; that’s how we control the colour of Tabasco. If you look at a tabasco bush, it’s not like a jalapeno bush –it doesn’t all come ripe together. On any tabasco bush that is in bloom you’ll see green peppers, yellow peppers, red peppers, and bright red peppers. Because I have no way of changing the


imes have changed since the Tabasco entered the market in the 1860s. Today’s hot sauce market is booming, with new companies flourishing and

colour of the product except by the colour of the pepper,

encroaching on the market. However, this isn’t causing

we only pick the reddest, ripest pepper. We keep going

anyone at the McIlhenny Company to lose any sleep.

back through the field over and over again, waiting for

“People are much more willing to experiment with their

the pepper to mature before we pick them. Also, when

food as they used to be. They are much more enthusiastic

we age the peppers in the barrels, the difference in the

about new flavours and flavour profiles, and making their

flavour profile is easy to see and to smell in comparison to

food taste better,” says Simmons. “Pepper sauce is a way

freshly picked pepper mash.”

to enliven food. We believe we give food extra flavour.

Consistency in flavour is paramount, and Simmons

Because you don’t use Tabasco by itself – there may be

frequently checks the pepper mash himself. “If I’m on

someone who does a stupid trick and drinks a bottle

Avery Island and we’re making Tabasco, then I will go

of Tabasco – it is used to make food taste better. The

down at 9am to the blending area, and they’ll have up

interest people have in new ethnic foods, and becoming

to 96 barrels of mash ready for me to inspect, before we

more experimental with their food, is beneficial to the

begin to blend it with vinegar to actually make Tabasco,”

entire pepper sauce industry, and we believe we will get

says Simmons.

out our share of that.”

Simmons explains there are several measures in place to check the product is consistent. “We have quality assurance and quality control

Tabasco has grown exponentially from its humble beginnings, and faced challenges at various stages of business. From Edmund McIlhenny starting a self-named

departments that check everything from the mash to

company after the American Civil War, to the company

the finished product, and we have a lab with technicians

then building Tabasco into a recognised brand, and

that check every batch before it’s released to be bottled.

now batting away competition - Tabasco has been on a

We also have a sensory panel, and our sensory panel is

significant journey.

responsible for checking product as it comes off the line

“We’re still here,” says Simmons. Simmons is confident

and making sure that the product is right. We have several

that Tabasco, with its vaunted history, will remain a sauce

checks to make sure our product stays exactly how it

staple. S


Summer 2017

Sauce Insight



SauceINSIGHT The magazine for the global sauce, dressing and condiment industry

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kensington ' s

The New American Condiment Dream Nearly 10 years ago Scott Norton and Mark Ramadan starting working on a new condiment concept, now known as Sir Kensington’s. Norton explains how their modern take on classic sauces has complemented today’s adventureseeking consumers

Top: Sir Kensington's founders Mark Ramadan (left) and Scott Norton Bottom: Catherine (left) and Laura (right) two memebers of the Sir Kenginston's team Kensington’s in their dorm room. They wanted to take on the ketchup market, and they wondered why nobody had stood up and challenged the products they considered inferior – made with high fructose corn syrup. The two partners were not fazed that ketchup is

by Rhian Owen

probably the most American condiment there is. Millions of Americans douse their french fries, hamburgers, hot


dogs and other favourite foods with it every day, and the

n this age of plenty, consumers are growing

ubiquitous tomato-based sauce has been a staple in

increasingly more selective. For the American

American cuisine for over a century. Norton, very casually,

condiment industry, there’s space for creative and

explains: “Yes, Heinz is synonymous with Americana – the

innovative new products, but taking on the US

roadside diner and fast food – but we thought, let’s be

segment is no small feat.

different from that. Let’s be premium and have a bit of

It is perhaps particularly astonishing then that two

college students from Brown University, who created their versions of classic American condiments, came

the exoticism that comes with the European culture, but nothing too exotic that it would scare people away.” In 2008, when Norton and Ramadan first had the

muscling into the marketplace long thought impervious

idea for their brand (a fictitious Brit by the name of

to disruption. Fast forward some years later, and they

Sir Kensington), they realised their product fitted in

have recently been bought by giant food and consumer

perfectly with America’s new line of thought. “We had

product company, Unilever.

this realisation that food in America was changing for

Scott Norton and Mark Ramadan started Sir


Summer 2017

the better, but condiments had been left behind,” says

Sauce Insight



kensington ' s

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kensington ' s

Norton. “If you look at every aisle in the supermarket for

Kensington’s. “It’s a trend we’re really glad to be a part

instance, or what shoppers are bringing into their kitchen,

of. In the second half of the 20th century there were

there was an interest in craft beer, in organic dairy, and

really unified tastes that were dominated by these big

people were starting to ask questions about where their

monopolistic brands, and now you're seeing increasing

food came from. Shoppers started recognising that better

multiculturalism in American food. There’s more specific

food is made from better ingredients. But in condiments

diets, more interest in regional foods, and more interest in

there hadn’t been any innovations in 70 years or more.

local and small batch producers,” Norton says. “I wouldn’t

“Essentially, when you looked at ketchup, in particular,

say there is more competition, certainly there are more

it really resembled an industrial product rather than a

people producing in the marketplace, but the general

food product. It was corn syrup, made of concentrate,

appetite for customisation and flavour is going up.”

with added flavouring. We asked the question, could we

While traditional condiments are still being enjoyed,

create condiments made from real food starting with

Norton believes that the long-established big brands are

ketchup that was that in-line with that the way we wanted

going to find themselves displaced. “Whereas someone

to eat and how American people want to eat? And also

used to use a commodity ketchup, they are now using

very importantly, satisfied what people looked for in a

a premium ketchup. Whereas they used to use a salsa,

bottle of ketchup?”

they may be using a hot sauce. And so there is room for everyone, but I think the very strong and unprecedented

Changing Landscape

market dominance of the largest players is coming into question.”

N 32

Norton explains that the co-partners are both

orton explains that there’s a fragmentation

motivated by their sense of purpose and by ambition,

of taste that has been developing in the US,

which is to bring integrity and charm to ordinary and

which provided the gap in the market for Sir

overlooked food. “There’s so much positioning and

Summer 2017

Sauce Insight


kensington ' s

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corporate marketing that happens in the massive

represented something that was distinct, unique, and

American food industry and frankly people are tired of

was a character that could speak for us on a shelf of a

it, and I think because we speak from an authentic point

store. So by being really different we enabled people to

of view and because we want to bring real better food to

do a double take without reputation and without really

more people, and that’s something that excites us, and

advertising. Just by being different.”

motivates us beyond just search for business growth, I

In 2010 the co-partners launched with a ketchup

think that in a way at the beginning – accidentally – we

containing less sugar, less salt, and no high fructose corn

realised that was one of our secret weapons. We care

syrup. America was ready. Gourmet grocers Williams-

about food. We care more. We see it more than as

Sonoma and Dean & DeLuca placed orders, followed by

transactional commerce.”

Whole Foods. They sold 10,000 jars in the first year.

The US is experiencing a glorious flowering of

“We knew we couldn’t be everywhere over night. There

condiment culture. Norton explains that while flavour

is a ubiquitous cultural messaging around the cheapness

is paramount, the duo had to understand what the

of food and really quantity over quality. So we realised if

American people desired. “Because whether you’re two

we were able to be in mainstream stores overnight when

or 102 years old you know whether you like something or

we launched it wasn’t necessarily that we couldn’t get

not when you taste it,” says Norton. “Ketchup is something

placed on the shelves, but we knew it wouldn’t actually

that there’s a lot of flavour memory around. So we

turn. It wouldn’t meet our standards and we wouldn’t be a

realised that if we were going to make something this was

good partner for the retailer. And the retailer themselves

compelling, it couldn’t just be based around taste but

wouldn’t be happy with that performance,” says Norton.

we had to crack the culture code too. We had to speak

“We were originally very specific about what stores

to people’s sense of excitement and really take people

we wanted to sell in, and making sure we staged that

back to why they love food. One of the ways we did that

strategy to really follow the education of our ultimate

is by creating this character, Sir Kensington, because he

shopper and customer. It’s only now that we’re really


Summer 2017


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kensington ' s

leaning into mainstream stores, which represents the

to replace egg whites in meringues and in icings, so we

lion’s share of the grocery market in the US. It may be

looked at whether we could utilise this ingredient to make

tempting to go after the biggest target but sometimes

mayonnaise,” Norton explains.

you have to go after the closest targets first and walk before you can run.”

Going Eggless

But there was no commercial supply chain for aquafaba. “We couldn’t just go around collecting people’s cans of chick pea water,” laughs Norton. “And if we were to boil the chickpeas ourselves, then we would have all of these leftover chickpeas. So what we did was we asked Whole Foods for their recommendations and we found a humous


t wasn’t long until the company got into the mustard

producer that was making hummus and disposing of their

and mayonnaise arena too. One particular venture was

aquafaba, not really knowing the value of it.”

an eggless mayonnaise.

Sir Kensington’s helped elevate the profile of aquafaba,

Sir Kensington’s partnered with hummus producer, Ithaca, in New York to create the world’s first aquafaba

which is the cooking liquid leftover after chickpeas

food chain, to make their Fabanaise, which is named after

are processed, when they used it to make a vegan

aquafaba. “And that’s the story of that product and how

mayonnaise, called Fabanaise.

we were able to bring integrity and charm into this new

But the road to creating an eggless mayo didn’t come without its challenges. “We found there was a significant and growing interest

category for us, the eggless mayo.” While Sir Kensington have created an eggless mayo, Norton says the company has not got too caught up in

and demand from the market to make an eggless

the food-intolerance bandwagon. “Frankly, it gets a little

mayonnaise,” says Norton. “And when we looked at all

ridiculous, in terms of how many different niches you

the different ways to do this – the challenge and the

have to market to, and how much real estate you have to

trick being that you need something to emulsify the oil

devote,” Norton explains.

because that was the role the egg plays in mayonnaise –

“But ultimately while the food that we make is natural

a lot of the standard ways to emulsify that oil is thorough

and clean, we don’t really call it a health food or a diet

refined soy protein and it wouldn’t give us the texture or

food; our philosophy is that real food tastes better,” Norton

flavour we were looking for in a mayonnaise.”

says. “That’s the big story, and that’s the sea change that

The Sir Kensington’s team discovered aquafaba

is happening in American food. We are moving away from

when conducting research online. “We came across this

synthetic ingredients and towards real and natural. And

online community of vegans there were using aquafaba

that’s a very good thing.” S


Summer 2017

Sauce Insight

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Beetrooty Business UK-based beetroot condiment company, The Foraging Fox, is going global at speed. The company’s co-partner, Desiree Parker, talks to editor Rhian Owen about how this alternative ketchup business – which started in the back garden – has taken on the ketchup category

for exposure. Self-nicknamed Aladin’s Cave due to the array of national and international artisan food and drink available, it’s a good place to start if you’re a newly launched premium ketchup company. The Foraging Fox co-founders decided to take their product to the London fair on the back of strong enthusiasm from friends and family. “When we launched at Speciality & Fine Food Fair it was very much a proof of concept, and we were absolutely blown away by the reception we received,” explains Parker. “We had a 1m square stall, and it was a surreal moment - ‘gosh, we

by rhian owen

really are here, and gosh, we really are small’. But from the get-go we had a queue of people around the tiny


stall and we were the talk of the show. To have a ketchup

hen Frankie Fox and Desiree Parker,

that was using a completely different vegetable as its

co-founders of The Foraging Fox,

base was something unique, and people hadn’t seen this

launched at a UK food show in


2014, they did not expect to be met with such enthusiasm for their

The Foraging Fox ketchup wasn’t just piquing the interest of idle bystanders, but department stores with

beetroot ketchup. But a combination of factors – playing

distinguished food halls such as Selfridges and Harrods,

against the backdrop of a growing food obsession and

along with overseas distributors, and independent

consumers curiosity and willingness to try something

wholefood retailers, were placing orders.

different – led to a rush of orders and encouraged the duo to ramp up their business. Start-ups exhibit at the Speciality & Fine Food Fair


Summer 2017

The company was three years in the making before Fox and Parker attended the trade show; the publicity gleaned from the show was proof of three years of hard

Sauce Insight

Frankie Fox (left) and Desiree Parker co-founded The Foraging Fox and launched it in 2014

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work. “It all came together because of Frankie’s [Fox]

norm. It has grown exponentially. Having an offering that

experimentation in the garden,” says Parker, who linked

works for that segment, works for everyone.”

up with Fox on the project in the second half of 2014. Fox, who grew up helping her parents with gardening

While consumers are increasingly educating themselves to know what’s good for them – and natural

and cooking, was taught not to throw food away, but get

foods continue to rise in popularity – Parker notes that

creative. So with a glut of beetroot and apples on the

there is a long way to go until we reach total acceptance.

family vegetable patch, Fox started tinkering with her ketchup invention with her children. “The recipes for all three of our beetroot ketchups

“In 2015, when we were focussing on launching our first product into the UK market, we spent a lot of time educating everyone, even the shops and the stocklists,

evolved from their. Frankie would take them in

about what natural means. When you use natural

tupperware or ramekins to parties and do blindfold taste

products your product isn’t the same colour every time,

testing,” says Parker. “She would hone, and hone, and

sometimes it’s a slightly deeper purple or richer purple.

hone the recipes.”

It’s saying to people that’s what food should be like - it shouldn’t be the same colour, it can’t be, there are

Ketchup Revolution

seasons. Parker explains that they decided to put this message, the all-natural message, on their website. “We thought


ccording to a report released earlier this year by

anybody interested in our product will go the website and

market research company, Mordor Intelligence,

read about us. We have a range of acceptability, because

the global ketchup industry was valued around

it also needs to look beetrooty, so within our own

US $4.15bn in 2015 and is expected to reach US $5.6bn

development we only use the best quality ingredients

by 2022.

to ensure that colour quality, the texture and the taste.

Penetrating the long-established ketchup market

But part of it was explaining this is 100 percent natural,

doesn’t sound easy, but by swapping tomatoes for

which means there are no stabilisers in it, there are no

beetroot and apples as your base ingredients, The

colourings in it, there’s no artificial anything. That was a bit

Foraging Fox were able to step into the arena. “We weren’t

of an exercise. But we did the right thing. We focussed on

really worried about entering this market, because we

the one product, and got the market behind it.”

thought there was a gap for something completely new.

Scaling Up

Others have done a tremendous job of bringing it into organic ranges, making it chunky, making it spicy, natural, but people are playing with the same ingredients. We are using completely different ingredients, turning the ketchup category on its head, and saying you can make a really tasty, all natural ketchup with no allergens in it, with different ingredients. “We are more versatile than ketchup because you


opping the list of things to do was to find a trusted manufacturer that could scale production of the ketchup for the startup to start fulfilling orders. “At

the time of Speciality & Fine Food Fair, Frankie [Fox] was still hand-making it in her kitchen. But the unthinkable

can use our range not only as a traditional range but

happened: We had orders. You don’t want to turn down

also people use it to marinade their fish or add it to

business, so we had to say to them, ‘listen, there will

mascarpone and use it in their pasta, or add it to olive oil

be a bit of a delay, but thank you for your interest, and

and create salad dressings. It has this versatility because

now we will move to the next level’. We realised we had

of its unique taste. We are very active on social media and

something that had caught fire, and caught people’s

we get a lot of feedback from our consumers regarding

imaginations, and we thought ok we really have to think

the different way they are using it, and we encourage our

about how we would go about this.

customers to share their recipes. If anything, what we’re

“Then we had to make sure we could scale up. In the

seeing in the market is that it is not closed off. There are

food sector, this can be the biggest hurdle. People create


something that is so delicious in their kitchen but actually

Across the industry, the classic Western condiments –

being able to scale it up is where is becomes really

mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup – are being reinvented.

difficult. It took us three months to get into a commercial

While bolder flavours are increasingly in demand, so are


products that are all-natural, gluten free, low fat, and allergen free. “We are 100 percent natural and low in sugar. We are

Alongside that, there were raw-ingredients suppliers to find, and relationship building to be done among retailers and distributors. “Marking sure that the logistical

also gluten free and allergen free, and this is a growing

side of your business is set up is absolutely crucial. The

segment of the market, that minority is becoming more

number one thing once you have a great product, is that


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you have to be able to distribute it. Distribute it in a timely

communicators with each other, we have such a good

and professional way, and in a way that doesn’t have any

working relationship and we’ve worked with each other

cracks in it. We secured ourselves a distributor, which led

previously so when we got together as a team on The

to the number of stockists we had pretty early on. And

Foraging Fox we knew we had done this before 12 years

on the distribution side as well, we had to make sure we

or so ago. We are friends, our children really get on. So we

had an online offering because of course that’s a growing

knew we could do this. We know how each other works.”

segment of the growth market you can’t ignore.”

In Demand

Parker also puts their success down to the strong relationships the pair have formed with external companies. “We’ve nurtured strong relationships from the beginning. Our first distributor we worked with, we put everything into that relationship – we courted them as much as we could, we supported them as much as we


he co-founders knew the direction they wanted to steer the company in from the company. However, Parker explains that in 2015, when the duo decided

could, but it was the same across them all. We now have

to release only one ketchup, they were told they were

five distributors in the UK, and we’ve also got international

making a huge mistake.

distributors. We haven’t changed people, we’ve used the same people and we have a real depth of relationship.” Fox and Parker – friends and work colleagues

“I can’t tell you how many people told us that was the wrong strategy. You’ve got to release a range, everyone said. But we didn’t do it. That’s laying all your cards on the

previously to launching the company – also count their

table, and that’s a confusing message, because nobody

strong relationship to be integral to business. “ Frankie

had even heard of beetroot ketchup before. So we stuck

[Fox] and I both work incredibly close together, we’re big

to one. People thought nobody would take just one, but


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they did. We believed in ourselves and we stuck to our

to increase business internationally. But now, the time is


right. “There’s a whole new work stream that you have to

Fox and Parker launched their Hot Beetroot Ketchup

do when you’re considering new markets,” notes Parker.

in early 2016 and in the summer of 2016 the duo released

“For us, 2015 was all about getting into the UK market, into

the Smoked Beetroot ketchup.

trade shows, into consumer shows, and speaking to our

Parker says the smoked ketchup was a “labour of

retailers. Whereas, last year we widened our scope - we

love”. Getting the recipe right while remaining true to their

increased the flavours on offer, and the countries we were

core ingredients was challenging. The process involved

exporting to, and 2017 is going to be more of the same.”

experimenting with different types of wood and smoking

In April 2017 the company rolled out its product across

methods. Artificial additives were not an option for the

the UK supermarket Waitrose, and the two partners have


recently signed a US order “which was 10 times” what

“By the time we launched the second and third

the co-founders thought it might be, says Parker. The

product people were getting it. People were coming back

Foraging Fox is also releasing its first gift pack this year.

for more, so it was the right time to launch more flavours,”

Having already shaken the UK ketchup market - and

Parker says. “At the same time we were exploring other

in myriad ways - the two partners have set their sites on

markets beyond the UK. We had more than 20 leads to

the global market. it will be greatly interesting to see how

different countries around the world.”

this year and beyond pans out for the The Foraging Fox,

Parker explains that in 2015 while there were widespread opportunities, the company wasn’t ready


a two women-run start-up underpinned by homegrown beetroot, apples and family-friendly cooking. S

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The David Tran way The hot sauce industry is far from having just a couple of good years – it is well into having a couple of good decades. Since 2000 growth in the US alone has been 150 percent and sales last year were around $1 billion – truth is it’s among the top 10 fastest-growing industries in America. How one company, however, is achieving success is not how it is supposed to be done. Velo Mitrovich reports for Sauce Insight

Foods. He does none of the above so how has his Sriracha sauce become a world wide phenomena with sales worth over $85 million a year and continued growth of 20 percent a year? It’s a good question but oddly enough, few have asked. Probably because few can understand his success. People compare him to Willy Wonka and if there ever was a real life example, Tran would come close – very close. It’s not that he’s secretive – private would be a better word. He just lets his sauce and all its fans do the talking for him. Ask any of his staff about him and they all say the same thing: “What you see is what you get with David.” Probably the same thing the Oompa-Loompas would say about Wonka if they weren’t so busy singing. If there was anyone deserving of a biography, it’s Tran.

by velo mitrovich

While people in the USA applaud rags to riches stories – mostly in film and fiction – Tran is the real deal whose


life can be divided in stages with one of the biggest

very business school teaches that you need

happening in 1975 when North Vietnamese army units

to spend anywhere from 10 to 20 percent

took Saigon, the capital of the South. He suddenly had

of your gross on marketing. You need to

two huge strikes against him. The first was he is ethnically

increase your volume, expand your product

Chinese-Vietnamese. Over the years there has not been a

range and take on as many distributors that

lot of love shared between the two countries and the two

you can. Your employees? Keep their salaries as low as

communist countries even had a short border war in 1979.

possible and forget any and all benefits. Once you get

The second was not only was he a former businessman,

big, show no loyalty to suppliers. Social media – you

he had also been a major in the South Vietnamese army.

better have a knock-out website, Tweet frequently, use

At first it seemed that a cycle of revenge would

Facebook, and everything else out there. Make sure no

not take place against the South. At this point to make

shirt maker, knick-knack producer, or anyone else out

money Tran started making his first hot sauce, bottling it

there is allowed to use your trademark unless they pay

in recycled glass baby food jars and delivered by family

dearly for the honour. Oh, and your wholesale price? Keep

members on bicycles. While this must have seemed like

it rising as fast and high as you can.

a period of peace after 25-years of war, the North started

But then there’s David Tran, founder of Huy Fong


Summer 2017

sending former military officers, government officials,

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and supporters to re-education (prison) camps. Over

would be complaining of the same – which they weren’t

300,000 were imprisoned and an unknown executed. In

– and despite the South Coast Air Quality Management

what were dubbed “the boat people”, those who could

District unable to find evidence of an air quality violation

got themselves out of Vietnam by sea to refugee camps

that would be harmful, all five city council members

in Hong Kong, Thailand, the Philippines, and elsewhere

unanimously declared Huy Fong a public nuisance. The

in Southeast Asia. Tran and his family were able to flee

city’s suit lead to a court order for the plant to cease

Vietnam in 1978 on a Taiwanese freighter, the Huey Fong,

most operations on 27 November, 2013. As news of this

which literally means “gathering prosperity”. After two

reached Huy Fong Sriracha fans, panic buying began

years in a refugee camp they were allowed to immigrate

as users of the sauce thought their supply would be

to the USA – the only country which would accept them

cut off. Six months later it was announced that Irwindale

– and he and family members settled in Los Angeles.

dropped the suit with cynics claiming it was because Tran

Jobless, he had a moment of epiphany. If he was missing

threatened to move the plant to Texas.

the taste of Asian-style hot sauce, the rest of California’s Southeast community must be missing it as well. Tran couldn’t find the same chili peppers that he

However, Tran decided that the city was treating Huy Fong Foods unfairly, stopped the contributions, and says he should be paid back. Irwindale says Huy Fong owes

used in Vietnam, but found it easy and cheap to get red

on payments and the matter is back in the courts with

jalapenos. For Mexican cooking and salsas, everyone

both sides suing each other. As mentioned earlier, it’s

wants green jalapenos, by the time they ripen fully to

complicated and it’s not the purpose of this article to cast

red they are close to going bad. Nobody wanted the red

aspersions on either side. However, a Google search of

peppers and at times Tran could even get them for free

‘Irwindale corruption’ makes for interesting reading.

from stall holders in LA’s Grand Central Market. In what’s turned out to be a blessing, by using red jalapenos it

Production is Fast and Furious

has given Huy Fong Sriracha sauce its bright red colour. Taking the peppers home, he prepared everything by hand, mixing the chilies with white vinegar, sugar, garlic, and salt in a bucket, with the acid burning his hands. At night he was afraid to pick up his daughter, fearful that the acid still stuck on his hands would burn her. Tran filled glass bottles with a spoon and sold his


ccording to Huy Fong’s Sabrina Martinez, during the jalapeno harvest season from August to October, Huy Fong trucks in 100 million pounds,

with the time being from harvest to plant around two hours. Underwood Family Farms are the exclusive

sauce to the Asian community of LA and beyond with

suppliers of chilies to Huy Fong; Tran says they only buy

a blue Chevy van which he decorated with his now

from Underwood and Underwood only sells chilies to

rooster logo (Tran was born in the Year of the Rooster).

Huy Fong. While McIlhenny, the maker of Tabasco, for

This rooster logo led to Huy Fong Sriracha’s nickname –

example, buys its chilies from producers around the

Rooster Sauce. By 1987 he was in a position to relocated

world, Tran will only buy locally grown chilies since he

to a 68,000 square-foot building in Rosemead, California.

believes one of the big factors that sets his sauce apart

Success bred more success and demand meant Huy

from competitors is that it’s made with fresh chilies.

Fong needed a larger space. Tempted by a deal from the

However, Trans’ unwillingness to compromise on

city of Irwindale, California, which offered Huy Fong a low

this means that Huy Fong’s growth is limited to what

interest loan to relocate to the largely industrial city, Huy

Underwood can grow. This also means that Huy Fong is

Fong opened a $40 million factory there in 2010, with a

at the mercy of the elements. With Underwood’s farms

total building site of 650,000 sq ft. He paid the loan back

in the same proximity to each other, a season of bad


weather or plant disease could badly hurt Huy Fong.

As part of the deal, Huy Fong was to contribute

Once the trucks are unloaded at the plant, the chilies

$250,000 a year to the city and this is where things get

are inspected, cleaned, and ground into a mash. It should

complicated. Was it, as Tran says, a contribution for 10

be pointed out that all the equipment used on this side

years to benefit the Irwindale community (which number

of the plant was designed by Tran. “David’s hobby is

only around 1,500) or was it a payment in lieu of taxes

machinery. We have our own machine shop here so we

which is what the city claims. A contribution you can stop;

don’t have to deal with third parties,” says Martinez.

a payment you can’t. In 2013, three years after the plant

The chili mash is piped directly into a mixer where

opened, a small number of neighbours living near the

it’s combined with vinegar, salt and three common food

plant started to complain that the odours of jalapeno and

preservatives: potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfite and

garlic being generated by Huy Fong Foods were causing

xanthan gum. After being formed into a base, it’s pumped

health issues such as nose bleeds, coughing fits, and

into 55-gallon plastic storage containers. These are

making their eyes burn. While you would think employees

stacked in a warehouse and used throughout the year.


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the quotable david tran ‘How hard you work today will give you success tomorrow.’ ‘Hot sauce must be hot. If you don’t like it hot, use less. We don’t make mayonnaise here.’ ‘My American dream was never to become a billionaire. We started this business because we like fresh, spicy chili sauce.’ ‘Make a rich man’s sauce at a poor man’s price.’ ‘This company is like a loved one to me… why would I want to share my love with someone else?’


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Because the storage containers – which Huy Fong makes

popcorn, candy, vodka, Blue Diamond Sriracha-flavoured

along with all of its plastic bottles – are airtight, aging

almonds, and a zillion other Sriracha sauces made from

does not take place inside the barrels. This ensures that

manufacturers such as Tabasco, Stubb’s, Kikkoman, Lee

they all taste the same. The company tries to keep an

Kum Kee, Frank’s Red Hot, Crying Tiger and Heinz with its

18-month supply on hand. Throughout the entire plant,

Sriracha-flavoured catsup.

including the warehouse, robotics and automation is

Even Subway, Jack in the Box, Taco Bell and other fast

used as much as possible. Sixteen racing forklifts were

food chains have jumped on the Sriracha bandwagon.

replaced by a conveyer system.

The other year Kylie Jenner dyed her hair green, put on

When it’s time to make sauce, the filling station works in reverse. The base is extracted and pumped into a second mixing room. There the base is combined with

a red sweatshirt and Instagrammed: ‘Don’t you just love Sriracha bottles?’ The problem is for Tran that he made a mistake in

garlic powder and sugar. It’s now ready to be bottled.

choosing the name for his hot sauce. Sriracha is based

Besides Sriracha, Huy Fong also makes Chili Garlic and

on the Thailand town of Si Racha. You can’t trademark a

Sambal Oelek which both start out the same way as

town’s name so anybody – and it does seem like anybody


– can make a hot sauce and call it Sriracha. Tran, who

Last year Huy Fong started making its own PET plastic

created the name and demand, gets nothing from these

bottles, making six different types, along with the very

companies who profit thanks to the reputation and brand

distinct trademark green cap. It uses nine bottling lines,

value that Huy Fong built.

filling around 10,000 to 12,000 an hour depending on

Tran has said this isn’t a problem for Huy Fong, he sees

demand. The lines have a maximum speed of 18,000

every new version of Sriracha as free advertising for Huy

bottles an hour.

Fong. He’s reported to maintain a daily ritual of searching

Irwindale is Huy Fong’s only plant. Bottles are only

the internet for the latest Sriracha spin-offs. Tran believes

filled for orders. Exactly where Rooster Sauce is shipped

that once people taste the knock-offs, they’ll want to taste

to, Tran is unsure of himself. All product is sold to a small

the original and once they do, they won’t go back.

group of distributors who must be thanking their lucky

This could, however, be wishful thinking on his part.

stars every day for the privilege. Not only has Huy Fong

The problem is, Tran created such a huge market and

has not added a new distributor for the past 11-years, the

demand that few consumers see a difference, figuring if it

wholesale price they pay for Sriracha has not change

says ‘Sriracha’ on the label, it’s Huy Fong’s.

since 1980. This bears repeating: for 37-years Tran has not increased the wholesale price for his hot sauce.

Any consumer disappointment with these products reflects directly back on Huy Fong. As Kevin Alexander

Normally there are around 80-90 staff; during the

said in the article ‘Who killed Sriracha?, “Everyone in

harvest season this can increase up to 200. Employees

America thinks they’re getting the taste of Huy Fong

get free health care and have profit sharing. With a very

Sriracha when they bite in a Sriracha chip or somewhat

loyal staff, labour is never an issue. According to Martinez,

alarmingly stuff their child’s stockings with Sriracha candy

people stick around for “a long time”.

canes. Consequently, when the stuff tastes or looks like

In the gift shop at the Huy Fong factory there is

s**t, or just becomes tiresome or ubiquitous, Huy Fong

everything from t-shirts, to hats, caps, hoodies, tights,

Sriracha is blamed for it. And that, friends, is how an

socks, mugs, jewellery and a host of other items. Huy

Internet backlash begins.”

Fong produces none of these items and none of the

In an interview in the Los Angeles Times, Tony

companies that do pay a cent to Huy Fong to use its

Simmons, chief executive of the McIlhenny Co (maker of

trademark rooster logo and distinctive bottle. All Huy

Tabasco), said: “We spend enormous time protecting the

Fong asks is that the companies send a copy of the

word ‘Tabasco’ so that we don’t have exactly this problem.

product to them so they can ensure the logo is correct

Why Mr Tran did not do that, I don’t know.”

and a quantity of items to stock in the gift store which it

It would be easy to dismiss Huy Fong and Sriracha as today’s in-thing; bound to be old news by tomorrow.

sells at cost.

There is an over saturation in the marketplace with

Sriracha Confusion

Sriracha sauce and Sriracha items – do we really need a Sriracha ice cream? But while others will fail, Huy Fong


will be here for the long haul. Already 37-years-old and

o down any supermarket aisle in the States and

still growing, proof of its success can be found here – Huy

you’ll be thinking that David Tran is the luckiest

Fong’s Sriracha sauce is now being discovered on store

man in the world. There are Sriracha potato chips,

shelves in Vietnam. S


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N onya

S ecrets

Flavour Behaviour Spurred by the experimental nature of today’s consumer, we can expect to see a burst of global, spicy and otherwise novel flavours available worldwide. Maureen Suan Neo, founder of Nonya Secrets, says Southeast Asian food – and its more unusual specialities – are surging in popularity

innovative flavor, while 33 percent of those over age 35 are willing to spend extra money on these dishes.

Discovering the Far East


lot of people today are well travelled and have tasted food from far away, and they know what it should taste like. Authenticity is very important,”

says Maureen Suan Neo, founder of Nonya Secrets, which produces Nyonya-inspired sauces and condiments.


“But unusual ingredients, something different from the norm, is becoming more of a requirement. Asian cuisine is unique in the use of condiments and ingredients. We


land, flavourless, traditional food is out of vogue, replaced by bolder flavours from all

use a lot of aromatic spices that are so different to the European herbs.” In the 2016 McCormick Flavour Forecast the spotlight

four corners of the globe. A rising number

was firmly placed on underexplored Southeast Asia,

of consumers are now looking for a well-

highlighting the region as an emerging trend. Suan Neo

travelled taste, including new flavours,

says this is still the case, and that the growing popularity

spice and heat. A study highlighting consumers’ proliferating demand

for new unique tastes, was published by foodservice

for trend-driven ingredients has seen more and more chefs making room for Asian ingredients. “In Asian cuisine, instead of thyme and rosemary, we

research company Technomic, in November 2015. The

are using coriander leaves, lime leaves and turmeric

report showed that 40 percent of all consumers and 52

leaves, as well as other Asian leaves such as Thai basil

percent of millennials are more likely to visit a restaurant

and Vietnamese mint, which are very different from the

that offers new or innovative flavours.

European leaves. They are a completely different taste

The firm also determined that 48 percent of millennials will spend more on a meal that features a new or


Summer 2017

experience,” says Suan Neo. “Because of the various Asian restaurants that are appearing all other the country, there

Sauce Insight

Maureen Suan Neo founder of Nonya Secrets

N onya

S ecrets

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is more of a demand for these ingredients, and they are

everything is melted and caramelised to get the special

no longer difficult to get hold of.”

taste, it’s not a rushed job. You can’t do it in 5 minutes. My mum used to spend hours grinding, peeling and

Nyonya Recipes


chopping. It’s a labour of love.”

Premium Poduct

uan Neo spent her childhood in Singapore. She is the daughter of Straits-born Chinese – the descendants of Chinese immigrants who came

to the Malay archipelago known today as Malaysia and Singapore.


auces from Nonya Secrets include Nonya’s Sabal Mix, which is on old family recipe – a Nyonya curry; Nonya Secrets’ Spicy Peanut Sauce, which

In the 16th Century, the intermarriage of Chinese

has notes of lemongrass and galangal running through it;

immigrants and local Malays resulted in the distinctive

as well as Nonya Secrets’ condiment, Sweet Chilli Sauce,

culture of Straits Chinese, whose language, art and

a sour, yet sweet chilli sauce. There are other products

cooking are celebrated still today. Their unusual fusion

too, and Suan Neo is always creating.

food are passed down from generation to generation, and

Nonya Secrets is available in premium retailers such

are expected to be mastered by the women in the family.

as Harrods. Suan Neo explains that it is difficult to create a

When Suan Neo arrived in the UK, she began experimenting with local produce, adopting the Nyonyastyle cooking from her heritage. Along with her husband,

sauce that will be accepted by the public as a new flavour trend, white remaining authentic. “With our marketing of products, more and more

Suan Neo opened five successful and popular restaurants

retailers from all over the country have written to me and

in London known as Singapura. “When the restaurant

asked for samples,” adds Suan Neo. “Once they try a jar,

leases came to an end, and I was at a loose end, I found

they fall in love with it, and the orders come in thick and

that part from being bombarded by emails and food calls

fast. It is unique and special, and it is a premium brand

from ex-customers who wanted to know where I was

and people are prepared to pay extra.”

going to open next,” says Suan Neo. “It seemed a shame

At present, Nonya Secrets is being achieved on a

that that is the end of my cooking and being able to share

small scale, and is not being created for the mass market.

my cooking with lots of other friends and customers who

“When we first started we didn’t have the equipment or

became such regulars. So I decided to bottle the flavours.”

facilities to create things in bulk. Now we have teamed

Suan Neo explains that Nyonya cuisine is different from

up with a unit that has the facilities, so we are sharing

Chinese or Thai flavours. It is a fusion of local ingredients,

a kitchen, and I am able to produce more, in larger

traditional Chinese cooking techniques and flourishes

quantities in order to meet the demand,” says Suan Neo.

of both colonial (Dutch, Portuguese and English) and

Suan Neo adds: “I wouldn’t say it caters for the

neighbourly (Thai and Indian) influence. “We share some

mass market yet, not until we can produce it in bigger

of the same ingredients as Thai cooking such as coconut,

quantities. It’s only a small proportion of the population

aromatic herbs such as lemongrass and kaffir limes,

that is willing to pay for it and has developed a taste for

unique to that region, but the cooking is very different.

these flavours.”WW

Nyonya cuisine has a different twist to it. It’s not so heavy handed, and it’s slightly more subtle.” Nyonya cuisine is steeped in the history of migration,

Nyonya cuisine seems to make an impact as our appetite grows for more in-depth knowledge of Southeast Asian food and its more obscure specialities.

intermarriage and the passing of secret recipes from one

For Suan Neo, this means the ingredients are – generally

generation to the other. “The recipes I’ve created through

– no longer difficult to obtain. “Since there are various

my sauces, Nonya Secrets, have been handed down from

Asian restaurants appearing all over, there is more

six generations of family secrets,” says Suan Neo. “Even

demand for spices and herbs. One or two things like fresh

in Singapore where I come from, they are much guarded

turmeric leaves that I haven’t yet seen in the UK, but then

recipes only kept within certain families and circles.”

that’s a very specialised thing. It’s only used in specific

Suan Neo says that the recipes are passed down verbally, and Nyonya cuisine is slowly dying with each

Singapore and Indonesian dishes.” Nyonya cuisine is a trend that has been emerging

generation that refuses to take the time to learn it. “It’s a

in the West for some time, with restaurant specials,

dying art because a lot of families aren’t cooking these

and even supermarket cookery kits, demonstrating its

days, because we are too busy,” explains Suan Neo.

increasing appeal. It is likely such fascination is fuelled by

“Nonya cuisine is very labour intensive. It uses a lot of

our insatiable appetite for travel, the surge in street food,

ingredients and fibres that need to be finely chopped

and taking cooking classes, turning our palettes to be

and blended, and lovingly cooked for hours. And

ever more adventurous. S


Summer 2017


From the Spice Garden of India 54

Summer 2017

Sauce Insight

Spice Drops, a range of concentrated extracts of herbs and spices, are manufactured in South India using raw materials mainly sourced from local farmers. Having recently secured a listing with Sainsbury’s, Gouri Kubair, managing director of Spice Drops, talks to Sauce Insight about the company’s success, its ethical principles, and sourcing hard-toget spices by rhian owen



or many travellers, Kerala represents idyllic India. Situated in the South West, the state boasts nearly 600 km of Arabian Sea coast and beaches, flamboyant festivals, rare and exotic wildlife species including elephants

and tigers, and spice-scented markets. While Kerala's colourful spices trading history, undoubtedly adds intrinsic appeal. Since historic times Kerala has been a prominent spice exporter. 3,000 years ago, explorers and hopeful spice traders from all over the world headed to the Muziris port in Kerala to trade spices. Today, the region is still known as the ‘Spice Garden of India’. Holy Lama Naturals’ Spice Drops, a range of

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concentrated extracts of herbs and spices, is manufactured in a factory in Kerala. The business is a family-owned affair, with Gouri Kubair, managing director of Spice Drops, the port of call in the UK. “My grandfather, D V Deo, set up the business. He was the first person in India to establish vetiver cultivation on a commercial basis, and was a pioneer in the essential oils industry in India,” says says Kubair, MD of Spice Drops. “From there, business expanded into other essential oils and spice concentration extraction made mainly using fresh produce from local farms in Kerala. This is what my mother and father have been doing since the late 1980s.” Kubair adds that the idea of a concentrated extract is not new in India. “Traditionally, extracts of liquid spices are used in manufacturing in industrial use long before in the household. In India it’s not a new concept, there are companies that manufacturer similar products,” says Kubair. “Before Holy Lama, I used to work as an auditor in an accountancy firm, and I was thinking of a move. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do auditing again, and I looked at maybe expanding the family business in the UK.” “At Christmas time in 2013 we did some trial runs in the UK. We went to some of the exhibitions, markets, and tried our Spice Drops out and got a really good response,” notes Kubair. “Our star seller during the Christmas season was the mulling spice mix. People were amazed that you could take a glass of red wine, add a bit of sugar and a few drops of the Spice Drops, and it was transformed into mulled wine. That’s when we realised that this is a good opportunity to perhaps launch the product in the UK.” In 2014, Spice Drops entered into Ocado’s Dragons’ Den-style competition, Britain’s Next Top Supplier. Out of 400 applicants, five including Spice Drops made it to the final. “We had to give a pitch to Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge,” says Kubair. “It was quite amazing to get the opportunity, that early on in the business. Although we didn’t win the competition, we got listed with Ocado off the back of it. That was our big break.” In March 2017, Spice Drops also secured a new listing with Sainsbury’s, marking the brand’s first move into the core grocery multiples sector, building on success in Ocado and Wholefoods.

The Making of Spice Drops


he spices are first cold-pressed using rollers – crushing them in a non-heat generating manner ensures that the flavors are preserved. Then, the

crushed spices are passed through an extractor where the ethyl acetate - the solvent - is percolated in order to obtain the maximum volume of spice extract. The extracts are passed through a de-solventiser, where the solvent is vacuumed out. All that remains is the oleoresin, that’s the


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Gouri Kubair, managing director of Spice Drops by spice drops


mixture of the oil and the resin. When the oleoresin is extracted it is highly


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Kubair explains that being aligned with suppliers, sharing similar principles and values, is integral. “The

concentrated. “The oleoresin is the essence of the spice,

bottom line is, no matter where we source ingredients

but if you take the 100 percent oleoresin you can’t use

from, we will make sure they follow the same ethos, the

it because it is too powerful,” explains Kubair. “So, finally,

same fair trade principles as us. If they aren’t fair trade

the spice essence is toned down; it is mixed with a

certified, then they at least have ethical policies in place.”

natural emulsifier to make it easy to portion and use in the kitchen, and also helps it bind.” Quality of ingredients is paramount, Kubair adds, as

The company is currently looking to source lavender, following a surge in demand. “If someone asks if we can make a particular flavour, we see if there is a demand for

is an experienced work force. “We have been doing this

it, and then we look into it. We’ve been trying to source

for such a long period of time, we know when the raw

lavender, which is not grown in Kerala,” says Kubair. “It

materials are any good, we look at the yield. A crop that

is available in the very north of India but the lavender

gives better yield is, of course, a better quality crop. My

grown there is not like English lavender. It’s very different.

father is the brains behind the extraction process and my

When we tried to develop it, it didn’t smell anything like

mother is the brains behind the blends. With the mulling

the lavendar you get in the UK. If people do not relate to

spice mix – my mother has never even tasted wine – I

it, that defeats the purpose. So also we try and use local

went on the BBC website and found the recipe for the

produce, but it might be that we source our lavender from

mulling spices, the proportion of the spices, and I emailed

England or somewhere else, because on the end of the

it to her and asked if she could do it. She made it within a

day quality.

week. It’s so good that Kew Gardens make mulled wine

Also in the pipeline, is a curry leaf Spice Drop. “It’s

using our spice mixture during Christmas time. My mother

prone to be quite challenging,” explains Kubair. “It’s

has this amazing sense of smell and taste, her pallet is so

difficult to get the right flavour out of the curry leaves. We

great. My parents are responsible for making the product.”

are still working on that, still developing it. It would be

The Kerala-based factory is also a women’s enterprise

great if we can get curry leaf, because the issue is that it

employing mainly disadvantaged women who have

gets restricted from import into the UK from India. Many

been marginalised due to personal circumstances. In a

of the chefs and restaurant owners are not able to get

traditionally male dominated society, employment in the

hold of this product, and that’s why they ask if we can

factory gives these women much needed self-confidence

make curry leaf extracts.”

and independence, Holy Lama explains in a statement, which makes a true difference to their lives.

There are an increasing amount of herbs and spices available at consumers’ fingertips. Kubair says that “Middle Eastern flavours are finding their place in

The Future of Spice

British cuisine now”. This is also in line with the findings presented in the McCormick Flavor Forecast 2017, which


he ingredients that make up Spice Drops have a clear provenance, with the raw materials mainly sourced from local farmers in Kerala and the

aims to identify top trends and ingredients shaping the future of flavour. “Increasingly, people are opening up to Middle Eastern flavours, such as saffron, which many people five

rest of India. “We know the source, so our traceability is

years ago thought was just a paella flavour,” says Kubair.

very strong,” explains Kubair. “We also work on fair trade

“Consumers are now realising that you can use saffron

principles as well. We make sure that our farmers get fair

in different dishes, and this is largely because there

prices and are paid in advance. The business runs on a

are more Persian chefs [such as British-Iranian famous

no-credit principle, meaning all farmers and raw material

chef, Sabrina Ghayour] and Middle Eastern cooking is

suppliers are paid immediately. That means when we

becoming more popular. Flavours such as saffron and

buy raw materials we have to pay, but unfortunately

cardamom are becoming more understood and used.”

the supermarkets don’t follow that, so it does cause a

While Kubair warns that educating consumers on

problem. But that’s the way the world works. The farmers

spices and herbs and how to use them is still needed,

need cash immediately because they have to sustain their

she also explains that “those who try one flavour most

families, and the crops.”

definitely try others flavours – we believe we should

While the raw materials used for making Spice Drops

be bold”. It is important to understand that the forward-

are sourced primarily from local farmers in Kerala and rest

thinking consumers of today, that are concerned with

of India, there are some herbs and spices that are difficult

ethics and traceability, are also usually inquisitive and

to get hold of, for example, saffron is sourced from Iran.

food-educated. S


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Testing for Allergens Every food producer wants to avoid allergen contaminations in their products. It is necessary to test for food allergens that are likely to unintentionally occur in the final food product. Jasmin Kraus and Alois Schiessl, from Romer Labs, explain that this may sound simple, but anyone who has done it will know that it is an all but easy task


by Jasmin Kraus and Alois Schiessl



prerequisite for food allergen testing is always

he topic of food allergens is gaining more and more importance in the international food industry. This is not only due to the fact that

allergen labelling is now a legal requirement

a proper and individually developed risk assessment. Important questions to cover at this

stage include: Which allergens can occur in my product? How and where may an allergen unintentionally be introduced into

in a number of countries, but also that people like you

my product? Which are the critical control points to check

and me care much more about food allergens now

for allergen contaminations?

compared to five years ago. We are more aware of our diet and often choose what we eat carefully. Furthermore, the number of people, especially children, suffering from a food allergy has risen over the past years. The potentially fatal consequences of food allergies can only be avoided by following a strict allergen-free diet. The consumer relies on correct labeling by the

Only after such questions have been answered, can a decision about the test format be made. There are currently two options for the detection of food allergens: Immunological and PCR methods. Mass spectrometry is a third one expected to emerge, as it is still restricted to research applications. PCR is a relatively fast and inexpensive method used

food manufacturer when it comes to the safety of food

to identify DNA of food allergens. It amplifies small

products. The only way a food manufacturer can be sure

fragments of a target DNA until a sufficient number of

that the final product is free from an allergen is to test for

copies are obtained for detection or even quantification.

it. And this is where the difficulties start.


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The fact that PCR detects the DNA molecule, which

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is extremely stable, is an advantage when analysing

causes the allergic reaction and hence, there is no direct

highly processed food. DNA tends to be relatively

link to the root cause of an allergy.

unaffected even by extreme processing conditions and

Most commercially available kits for food allergen

can therefore still be detected even when most of the

testing rely on the application of immuno-based methods

proteins have been degraded or modified in some way.

such as enzyme linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs)

Furthermore, PCR detection can be used for allergens

or lateral flow devices (LFDs). They use specific antibodies

like celery which until now were not able to be detected

to detect proteins characteristic for the allergenic

by specific antibodies. Celery must be labeled in the EU

compound. The high specificity of antibodies towards only

but all previous attempts to produce specific antibodies

one particular protein, require a separate kit to be used for

for testing purposes failed due to the close relationship

each allergen.

between celery and other plants like parsley, carrot, coriander or fennel. However, the PCR approach does suffer from some

These methods have also their caveats. Food processing steps like heat treatment or fermentation can modify the target protein structure. This structural

severe drawbacks. Since DNA is the analyte of choice

modification can result in a change of the allergen’s

for PCR, discriminating between for example, egg or

immunological properties and the antibody–allergen

milk and the corresponding tissue DNA of chicken or

complex can be impaired. This can lead to false negative

beef cannot be done as they share identical DNA. Some

results or reduced quantifications.

foodstuff such as egg white or milk only contain small

Nevertheless, this approach is often considered more

amounts of DNA but a large number of allergenic proteins

desirable than PCR and is seen as the “gold standard”

and therefore, this method is not suitable for analysing

in food allergen testing, as it directly detects those

such samples. In addition, by detecting DNA instead of

compounds that are responsible for the allergic reaction.

the protein we are not testing for the actual molecule that

Thereby these methods create a link between the


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AgraStrips provide qualitative analysis of food allergens by romer labs

patient’s immune reaction and the relevant triggers within

during food processing. Furthermore, they tend to

the food.

strongly interact with other components present in the food product.

The Right Test

Applied processing methods and parameters can be very different and as a consequence, the level of processing and the resulting conformation changes are


eciding which allergen test format to use depends on the application, and is critical for successful allergen management.

At present, ELISA is the most widely applied method

hard to predict which may affect the test result. Whether you analyse swab samples or rinse waters, this influence will remain rather small. But when raw ingredients and finished food products are to be tested,

for the detection and quantification of food allergens.

the situation gets more difficult. Positive testing with LFDs

Many samples can be analysed at the same time, and

requires an understanding of the minimum concentration

analysis times range from 30 minutes to a few hours.

levels for each specific food matrix. Only experience and

When using ELISA test kits, a laboratory at the

small validation studies can help to assess the individual

production site is required, as laboratory equipment and

cutoff level for specific applications. So, when selecting

trained personnel are needed to carry out the test.

the correct LFD kit, consider the level of customer

Qualitative immunological tests are mostly carried out

support offered. Your test kit supplier must be willing

using LFDs. They are only capable of giving a ‘yes’ or ‘no’

to provide their expertise in order to help with each

answer with regards to the presence of an allergen at a

individual product application.

certain concentration. They are on-site methods that do

What else do you need to consider? There are other

not need any additional equipment. The test procedure

considerations a food producer must bWe aware of when

is extremely simple, hence these tests do not require

validating their individual test kit application.

highly trained personnel and will give a result within a few

The immunogen should match the materials used for food production. If we take peanut as an example, it

minutes. These features make qualitative tests the ideal solution

makes a huge difference if the peanuts used for antibody

for all types of in-process analyses when longer assay

development are raw, processed (e.g. roasted), or if they

times would cause a production delay. This includes

have been defatted, etc. A close discussion on how the

verifying the efficiency of any cleaning steps through the

food is processed will help guide the correct choice of

testing of environmental swab samples or rinse waters. In

test kit for proper quantification. Romer Labs® for instance

a well-established HACCP plan it is good practice to use

offers two different ELISA kits for the testing of peanuts

both ELISA tests and LFDs for comparison and cleaning

– AgraQuant® Peanut will give more accurate results

confirmation during set up and at regular intervals within

with raw peanuts, while the AgraQuant® Plus Peanut

the control plan.

was developed for the detection and quantification of

There are a great variety of PCR, ELISA and LFD test kits on the market to choose from. Comparing the kits of

processed materials. The big topic of limit of detection: Our experience

different manufacturers will often lead to similar results.

shows that food producers aim to achieve the lowest

This may lead to the assumption that any assay can be

possible limit of detection (LOD), even surpassing

chosen and routine testing can begin right away.

legal requirements. For example, with gluten the legal

Unfortunately, the reality is not that simple.

limit is 20ppm, but the LOD for most manufacturers is

As already discussed, food allergens are mostly

significantly lower than this threshold.

proteins which can easily change their conformation


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Lower limits of detection are often desired, but are

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they necessary? Does being able to detect one part

LFDs, may vary between manufacturers due to several

per billion or per trillion of gluten really matter when it’s


allergen safety limit is <20 ppm? In terms of food safety, it

The most crucial factor is the antibody. Not only can

is not relevant to detect a single allergenic molecule as a

it be monoclonal or polyclonal, but the antibody may

certain dose is needed to trigger the allergic reaction.

target a single protein or multiple proteins. Also, the protein used to generate the antibody may have been


fractionated, modified, or synthesised. The material that is used for immunisation is crucial for the specificity of the


deally the percentage recovery of any test kit would be between 80 to 120 percent. But as recovery is affected by both the extraction efficiency and the

ELISA procedure, this level is not always achievable. Certain food samples that contain high amounts of salt

antibody and will account for what the antibody will be able to detect. Further variabilities come from the calibrators of an ELISA kit. The standards are created to match the antibodies in the kit in order to obtain stable and reliable results. If the allergens in a sample were exactly the

or polyphenols, or samples with extremely high pH values

same as the standard solutions in the test kit, we would

are difficult to analyse. Also recoveries from incurred

never see an issue with inaccurate results. However, food

samples can be very different from those obtained with

samples are extremely diverse, and as such will always

spiked samples. For this reason, a guideline published

behave differently to the calibrators.

by AOAC considers recovery values between 50 and 150

The extraction is also a crucial factor for the test

percent as acceptable, as long as they are consistent.

performance. No matter how good the antibodies are,

However, results with recovery values of between 50

they can only detect what has previously been extracted

and 150 percent are not as accurate as they could be. In

from the sample. So even when there are test kits that

order to obtain measurements with increased reliability

contain the same antibody for detection, they will never

and accuracy, it is necessary to validate the food sample

perform equally if the extraction procedure is different.

in question with the intended ELISA test kit. Ideally, test

Finally, we need to be aware that immunochemical

methods would be able to analyse all food samples with

tests might be subject to fluctuations due to

equally reliable results, as they are presented in the test

environmental influences. This means that experimental

kit validation report. In reality, certain methods may work

conditions may have an impact on the test result. Hence,

better for certain food samples.

kit manufacturers need to prove the robustness of their

Even cross reactivity, defined as a positive response to

test kits by showing that the method will give consistent

a certain ingredient in a sample that does not contain any

results when minor deviations occur to the test protocol.

of the target allergen, can vary between sample types.

An easy task

Why is that? The first explanation is simple. It may be possible that the raw allergenic analyte has been used in a validation study and now a final processed product is tested, or vice-versa. Another explanation is that on occasion, a cross-reactivity study is performed with local samples from one region of the world. The test kit,


nformed decisions can make allergen testing an easier task, but it’s certainly not the easiest. For fast decisions, LFDs are the technology of

choice. If a quantitative result is required then ELISA

when applied in a completely different part of the world

test kits have proven their significance. And whenever a

where different cultivars of raw materials are used, may

complimentary test method to rule out cross-reactivity

produce different results.

is required or when no immunoassay for a food allergen,

Even experienced users will sometimes face a particular problem when comparing, for example, the performance of different ELISA test kits. The results of

such as celery, is available, PCR is the preferred methodology. During implementation of an allergen control plan it

different kits can vary quite significantly for one and the

is highly recommended that the selected allergen test

same sample, leading to the legitimate question, “Which

method is fully validated on the food producer’s specific

test kit gives the correct result?”

food matrices. By following the described validation rules

For most analytes certified reference test methods

and by correctly positioning and applying LFD, ELISA,

and reference materials are defined by standardisation

and PCR tests within the allergen control plan, a reliable

bodies such as CEN, AOAC and others. When looking into

and accurate result is guaranteed for almost every food

the field of food allergen analytics, such references are

product. Further work is required to provide the market

lacking. Without a certified standard for test kit calibration,

with a common reference point such as a certified

test results from rapid methods, such as ELISAs and

allergen reference material. S


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The Psychology of Condiments Colour – of the packaging and the condiment itself – is undoubtedly important as far as signalling the product is concerned. Professor Charles Spence, head of the Crossmodal Research Labratory at Oxford University, says you can find out plenty about the psychology and marketing of food by a look at the supermarket’s condiment aisle.

signalling the product and/or brand is concerned. Both the colour of the packaging and that of the product itself when presented in transparent packaging. Indeed, one thing that is immediately noticeable about many popular condiments is just how bright and distinctive their colours are. Just think about it, from the vivid reds of the ketchups through the golden sunshine yellows of English mustard, and the livid green of many a mint sauce through to the rich dark browns of the Branston Pickle and Worcester sauce. A condiment may sometimes be added to a dish simply to provide a dash of colour. Marketers have long argued that what consumers really appreciate is choice, and lots of it – the more

by Professor Charles Spence

choice the better, or so the mantra goes. However, one might ask whether things have started to go too far.


The number of condiment offerings that one now finds

of, on the one hand, trying to capture the shopper’s

the typical shopper is emphasised by the oft-mentioned

attention on the store shelf while, on the other, making

suggestion that they will be exposed to something like

sure to correctly signal the type, or flavour, of product to

1,000 products or brands per minute while walking down

the customer. No one, after all, wants to get home to find

the aisles of a supermarket. For those of us, then, who

that they accidentally picked-up a jar of mustard when

aren’t fortunate enough to shop in an establishment

what they were really after was ketchup. Relevant here is

with a condiment sommelier on hand, we will typically

the suggestion that 90 percent of the food and beverage

use colour to guide our search. Things that are unusual

brands in the supermarket use colour to convey relevant

or unexpected will stand out and capture our attention

product information.

visually. This is why changing the colour of a product, or

ike any other food or beverage product,

is such that in certain high-end stores in The States

condiments are experienced through all of

(especially in the New York metropolitan area), a new

the consumer’s senses. Taste, but also smell,

breed of ‘condiment sommelier’ has emerged; their job,

sight, sound, and touch. For a start, just think

to help the perplexed consumer navigate between the

about the bright and distinctive colour of the

10’s, if not 100’s, of different mustard and mayo offerings,

product itself, not to mention its packaging. What one sees being played out are the twin battles

Colour is undoubtedly very important as far as


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that are for sale. The shear visual search challenge that is faced by

its packaging, so that it stands out from the crowd, say,

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will help capture a shopper’s attention. It was just such

off the product inside to best effect. Think here only of

a distinctive and unusual use of colour that helped to

the classic contrasts between the greeny-blue of the

make Heinz green and purple ketchup such a success

Heinz can and the reddish beans inside, or Cadbury’s

back in 2000.

distinctive purple colour and the brown of their Dairy Milk

However, while upsetting the colour code for the category will likely guarantee you shelf stand-

Chocolate bar. Beyond the colour of the product and its packaging,

out at the so-called First-Moment-of-Truth, the real

what is also really important is its shape/form. Some

challenge often comes later: How exactly does one

particularly successful brands have managed to

go about avoiding the generally negatively-valenced

establish the distinctive shape of their product’s

disconfirmation of expectation response that normally

packaging as an ‘image mould’: The latter, the name

follows when something does not tastes as it looks?

given to an arbitrary packaging form that consumers

Much of our work with the food industry over the years

have internalised as the shape of a particular product/

has revolved around helping those companies who

brand. With a strong image mould then consumers will

have managed to capture attention but have then had

probably be able to identify the product immediately,

to deal with customer complaints that their miscoloured

even if they see nothing more than a blacked-out

products don’t taste as the customer expects that

silhouette. Think here only of the sloping shoulders of

they should. While modernist chefs can get away with

the Wish-Bone salad dressing bottle that successfully

surprising their guests – think only of the beetroot and

established the image mould for the entire category.

orange jelly dish (orange and purple, respectively, given

Other classics in this space include the distinctive

the use of golden beetroot and blood orange) that was

Kikkoman sauce dispenser and the glass Heinz Ketchup

served a few years ago at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat

bottle. In fact, it can, I think be argued that the condiment

Duck restaurant in Bray.

category has more than its fair share of distinctive

As far as I am aware, Walkers are one of the only food

packaging shapes. In the best case scenario, the image

companies in the marketplace who have managed to

mould says it all, capturing the shopper’s attention on the

successfully reversing the code for the category with

shelf while at the same time being processed fluently,

their Salt and Vinegar and Cheese flavoured crisps

and hopefully also conveying a sense of quality to the

varieties. Heinz’s unusually-coloured ketchups should

product. In my work with condiment companies around

probably also be counted as a success too, given that

the world, I am often surprised at how many national

the simple addition of 0.1 percent food colouring to the

players that one comes across who have singularly failed

product led to a near 10 percent increase in Heinz market

to establish any kind of distinctive ‘image mould’ for their

share, in what is not known as a dynamic category.

brands. Definitely a lost marketing opportunity as far as I

Heinz may well have succeeded precisely because

am concerned. And while some marketers talk of image

tomatoes can be green (so the colour is, in some sense,

moulds as part of tactile marketing, it should be obvious

natural) and, perhaps more importantly, because there

that it is as much a visual phenomenon as anything else.

was nothing with such a vivid colour already in the

That is why, after all, those with a strong image mould

marketplace to confuse it with.

often put a silhouette of their recognisable packaging

According to a recent store audit, transparency would

shape on the side of their sachets (think Heinz tomato

seem to be becoming an increasingly common feature

ketchup) or cans (think of the distinctive black silhouette

of product packaging across a wide range of categories,

of the Coke bottle that one often sees printed on the side

signalling, as it does, quality and, in some cases, also

of their cans).

freshness. However, it is important to note that this

Now, if one can get the shopper to notice, and better

growing trend doesn’t work for everyone. As a condiment

still pick-up your product then you are well on the way

manufacturer, one needs to make sure that the colour

to the sale. It is at that point that the sense of touch

contrast between the packaging/brand colour shows

really start to kick-in. The texture, compressibility or


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firmness, and weight of the product plus packaging all

packaging costs by removing the plastic wrap around

play a role in influencing the consumer’s experience of

the opening that used to serve this purpose. That

the contents. In fact, a quick walk through any well-

said, achieving similar benefits in the condiment aisle

stocked supermarket will soon highlight just how much

isn’t necessarily such an easy problem to crack given

innovation has taken place in recent years in terms of

that condiments, unlike beverages, tend to be kept in

packaging forms and surface texture. As shoppers, we

the fridge or cupboard for a while, and reopened on

are all exposed to a range of variation that one would

numerous occasions. Ultimately, I think one knows that

never have seen even just a decade or two ago.

one has distinctive sound when people start to use the

Intriguingly, across a wide range of product

sounds made by your product packaging as instrumental

categories, we have now been able to demonstrate

sounds in musical compositions. Go online and you’ll find

that people rate products as being of higher quality,

many examples of the Pringles pop being used in just

as being more satiating, and as having a better/more

this way. I've also come across online examples of tracks

intense smell/flavour when presented in heavy, rather

involving the pop of a freshly-opened ketchup bottle

than light packaging.

too. It is my firm belief that there is lots of opportunity for

This is a part of what probably makes ketchup served from the heavy glass bottle taste better than exactly

enhanced sonic differentiation in this space. There was a time when ‘difficult to open/use’ was

the same product when sampled from a light plastic

thought to convey a sense of quality. Nowadays, though,

squeezy bottle instead. One of the challenges here, of

it is all about the ease of use. The traditional ketchup

course, being that many manufacturers are being told

bottle while iconic, and heavy, has a lot going for it in

that they need to lightweight their packaging.

terms of its ability to enhance the consumer’s experience

How can one cut down on waste while at the same

of the contents, singularly doesn’t afford ease of use.

time still give one’s product packaging that substantial

This is where the switch to a squeezable plastic bottle

feel? That is the challenge facing many companies at

that has been developed (so that the contents can be

the moment. Also relevant here, we have just published

dispensed more easily comes in). Inverting the bottle

research showing that giving packaging/plateware

(and label) so that the contents collect near the entrance

a gritty feel can bring out the spicy/gingery notes in

also helps too. I must admit that I was tickled to see how

a food. I can therefore definitely see some marketing

one group of materials scientists had taken a somewhat

opportunities around textured product packaging to help

different approach to this problem. They had developed

up the perceived spiciness of a pickle say.

a transparent non-stick coating for the glass bottle that

When the consumer finally gets to open and use the condiment, there will, or at least should be, a distinctive

ensured that none of the contents ever stick to the side of the bottle.

sound of opening. After all, given how much money

The challenge is that the well-known, premium

many companies spend on their visual branding it is

brands often perform poorly in unbranded ‘blind’ taste

surprising to consider how difficult it is to discriminate

tests. Why pay more for a premium product when it

between brands with one’s eyes closed. We are

scores low down in a blind taste test? Well, I suspect

currently working with a number of companies in order

that such arguments miss the point that we rarely

to help them try and establish a signature sound of

do taste products blind. Mostly, we taste them in the

opening, one that conveys a functional benefit in terms

presence of their packaging, and the added value that

of enhancing the consumer’s expectations, and hence

a product attains when served branded is, I believe, a

experience, of the product.

core part of the total product proposition. I want to know

As an example of what we are aiming for, one can think here only of the distinctive Snapple ‘pop.’ Simply by sonically signalling that the product had not been tampered with, the company were able to reduce


which product tastes best when presented in its proper packaging. To say that it is just marketing is not the point. In terms of the flavour of the product itself, it is interesting to ask just how much of the choice that the

Summer 2017


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Viewing distance: 30cm

17inch LC display

Image processing PC

Camera H5D00006 (Microsoft)

Distance between ketchup and camera: 20cm

Sauce on white paper plate. Illuminance level: 300i

consumer is faced with on the condiment shelves is

science of eating (published by Viking Penguin, 2017), it is

merely marketing-led, and how much of that variety

interesting to me to see how the presence vs. absence of

caters to the genuine individual differences in people’s

condiments at table depends very much on the style and

preferences for different flavour profiles (broadly-

price point of the restaurant. Nowadays, one is unlikely

defined). The best-selling author, Malcolm Gladwell,

to find even salt and pepper in the Michelin-starred

has written about the work of Sensory Scientist Harold

restaurants, never mind the ketchup.

Moskowitz in segmenting consumer in terms of their preference for smooth vs. chunky textured pasta sauces. More fundamentally, one might want to ask why

We have been working with a group of vision scientists in Japan to change the visual appearance properties of tomato ketchup using an augmented

condiments are such a common feature of dining

reality headset. In real-time, and without the need for any

tables around the world, and why there is still so much

external markers, we can change the visual appearance

difference in the kinds of condiments that those from

of a condiment that people see being squeezed onto a

different countries/cultures reach for to spice-up/

spoon (see figure above). We have been able to show

season their food. One obvious answer here is that salt,

that people really do eat first with their eyes, in as much

which is a common feature of many condiments, plays

as changing nothing but the visual appearance has

an important role as a flavour enhancer. Some have

been shown to result in a significant change the rated

even gone so far as to argue that tomato ketchup is

taste of the condiment. While it is a little hard to see a

an ‘überfood’, given that, as it does, it touches, at least

commercial application of this technology for consumers

four of the basic tastes, salt, sweet, sour, and umami.

in the near future, this approach to virtual product

As we have seen already, the bright colour shouldn’t be

innovation is likely to have use among the condiment

neglected either in helping to add some visual interest

companies’ development/innovation kitchens.

to a dish. And then there is the fact that smothering

Let me leave you with a final thought: The next time

vegetables in ketchup, something that is both familiar

you find yourself wandering down the condiment aisle

and sweet, turns out to be one of the most effective

in the supermarket why not check-out whether you

means of getting kids to eat more of their ‘greens.’

can spot any correspondence between the shapes of

It has been shown that some people do have more

the labels of condiment bottles/containers and the

of a sweet tooth than others. Another section of the

predominant taste of the contents. Given that sweet goes

population, myself included, are sweet neutral: while

with round, whereas sour, bitter, and spicy are associated

we will eat sweets they are certainly not something

with angular shapes instead, it would certainly make

we crave. Then there is the oft discussed difference

sense for sweet-tasting products like ketchup to have

between super-tasters and non-tasters (the former

a rounder labels whereas a spicy condiment would be

likely having more taste-buds on their tongue and

much better paired with an angular label instead. Just

enhanced taste perception, especially of bitter-tasting

think of the strong angular diamond-shaped label of

foods). Condiments, then, can be seen as the optional

Tabasco sauce as a good example. In other words, it

yet ubiquitous seasoning on the majority of tables that

makes sense for a company or brand to try and maximize

stands as an acknowledgement of the very different taste

the ‘perceptual fluency’ of ‘the total package’. There

worlds in which we all live. That said, and as I discuss

really is more to condiments than meets the eye, or the

at length in my recent book Gastrophysics: The new

tongue, for that matter. S


Summer 2017

Sauce Insight






Woven wire sieves

Air Jet Sieves

Airjet sieves Sieve shakers

Grid sieves


Any sieve you need !

| 9 Lombard Road | London, SW19 3UP | England | Tel :+44 (0)20 8542 8121 | Email : sales@endecotts.com Diamond Sieves

Perforated plate sieves

Grain sieves

Microplate sieves

Diamond sieves Endecotts Limited | 9 Lombard Road | London, SW19 3UP | England | Tel :+44 (0)20 8542 8121 | Email : sales@endecotts.com

pro d u c t

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colour & consisency: vital tools 1

Lovibond: PFXi Series



utomated and visual Lovibond colour measurement instruments enable easy testing for laboratory and in-situ use. Recognised for their

accurate analysis, the instruments and ISO17025 certified reference materials comply with international standards

Konica Minolta: Benchtop Spectrophotometer CM-5



he Konica Minolta Sensing CM-5 is a benchtop spectrophotometer for measuring the colour of solid, granular and liquid samples in either

reflectance or transmittance. Samples are measured

such as EBC, ICUMSA, Pfund, IMSI, Series 52, Lovibond

either directly on the top-port, in a petri dish or cuvette.

RYBN, AOCS and CIE. The companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s flagship product,

The CM-5 is operated either directly or via PC and

the PFXi series of spectrophotometric colorimeters

features firmware that enables measurement under all

introduces RCMSi technology (remote calibration and

major colorimetric systems including many industry

maintenance service via internet). Users can benefit

specific indices. Users can access Haze measurement,

from the capability for remote calibration and servicing

further indices and user generated indices via the optional

via the internet - eliminating any costs and time delays

software SpectraMagic NX.

associated with servicing and guaranteeing compliance with standards.


Summer 2017

Sauce Insight




pro d u c t

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2 Testronix: Colour Viewing Booth


ndian-based company, Testronix, provide a range of colour measurement equipment for the sauces and condiment industry with Asia, US and European

product models. For example, the company’s Color Viewing Booth is used for matching different products and materials for their colours with a standard reference. The instrument is best for matching the test specimen in different light sources, and can test the product for metamerism - when the colour is perceived to match, but


actually doesn’t.

HunterLab: ColorFlex EZ


acked by more than 60 years of experience, HunterLab provides a range of spectrophotometers to accommodate various

applications of colour measurement. The company’s ColorFlex EZ is a popular choice among its customers because of its compact design and integrated display, which does not require a PC and external software. It is available with 45°/0° design for colour measurement preciseness ‘seeing’ samples the way the human eye does.


Endecotts: Consistometer


ndecotts is a manufacturer of laboratory test sieves, sieve shakers, and related laboratory equipment. Endecotts offers Bostwick

Consistometer - a simple, dependable instrument that

CR Instruments: Bostwick Consistometer


R Instruments’ Bostwick Consistometer measures samples by its resistance to flow under specific conditions, for a specified time. It is manufactured

determines the consistency of various materials by

in the UK, from stainless steel engraved with a series of

measuring the distance which a sample flows under its

precise graduations at 0.5cm intervals. The sample is

own weight. It is used extensively in the food industry

initially retained in a reservoir behind a spring loaded gate

for measuring the consistency, flow rate and viscosity of

prior to testing. The gate is released and as the sample -

jams, jellies and other highly viscous products such as

usually 75ml - flows down the instrument its progress can

tomato paste, tomato ketchup, tomato puree, fruit puree,

be measured using the graduated scale. By comparing

yoghurt, condensed soup, mayo, chili sauce, mustard,

the low rate to specified time periods the physical

cheese sauce, batters, cake mixes, gravies, sauces, salad

properties of the sample can be calculated. The product

dressings, chilled food and ready meals etc. Endecotts

comes in 24cm and 30cm models.

Consistometer comes in 24cm and 30cm.


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Mislabelling Mistakes

Aaron Poppleton, technical writer for Mettler Toledo, explains how the industry can identify and prevent product mislabelling

mandating the information which must appear on a food label. While the finer points (for example font size, location) may vary from country to country, every food product label needs to include the following: product name; list of ingredients; manufacturer name and address; and expiration date/lot number.

by Aaron poppleton

Should any of this informatio n be missing from the label, manufacturers will be forced to pull the offending


articles from sale and, potentially, pay a fine. The cost

to consumers, it is unsurprising that legislation exists

that a single facility will see multiple varieties of a product

t is a common belief that a product's label serves

of product recalls is well documented â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the long and

as the final line of communication between

short of it is they are expensive, unpleasant, and almost

the manufacturer of a product and its intended

uniformly lead to a loss of market share and profit â&#x20AC;&#x201C;

user. Food labelling is no different in this regard

sometimes permanently. It is in the best interest of

â&#x20AC;&#x201C; customers rely on labelling to know what is

manufacturers to do their best to avoid product recalls

in the food they eat. As the food they eat may include known allergens which can cause serious injury or death


Summer 2017

whenever possible. The realities of modern food manufacturing are such

Sauce Insight

mislabel ling

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produced in a single location. Indeed, a single production

are not serious enough to merit rework or a recall can

line may run multiple varieties of product, which while

damage brand image, as an obvious labelling error can

efficient also raises the chances of a product coming off

give consumers a lowered opinion of a brand's quality â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a

the line with the wrong label. Should this event occur, and

cost that may not be immediately apparent, but is there

the product make its way to a retailer's shelves, a recall


will need to be conducted, and nobody will be happy.

What Causes Mislabelling?

Labeling errors are the driver behind a surprising number of product recalls, particularly those related to the Recalls may be the worst case scenario for a labelling error, but even assuming a label mistake is discovered before products ship, there is still a significant cost in


he nature of production, while trending toward automation, still relies on people to make the process work. It is no surprise, then, to find that

terms of waste and rework time. The

product labelling errors are usually down to one of two

longer it takes to discover an error,

causes: operator error and equipment malfunction. This

the more mislabeled products are

assumes, of course, that the correct product is being

produced, the higher the rework cost becomes. Even label mistakes which


packaged. Mislabeling errors are not just caused due to putting the wrong label on a package, sometimes the

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wrong product goes in the package. In that situation, all

which it is easy to fail to check data entry. This risk will

the care in the world on the labelling side will not prevent

exist for as long as the production process relies on

a necessary recall (and more troublingly, the error is

humans for product changeovers â&#x20AC;&#x201C; something unlikely

harder to detect from an inspection standpoint). For these

to change any time soon. Even in a theoretically fully-

particular explanations, the assumption is made that the

automated system, however, the potential for a labelling

correct product is present.

error can remain.

Operator error is self-explanatory: it is a mistake

Equipment malfunction covers a number of other

caused by a human. As efficiency comes into focus

potential defects. The most common equipment

for manufacturers, there is pressure on personnel to

malfunction would occur during the label printing

execute product changeovers as quickly as possible.

process. A printer doing multiple runs of the same label

Reducing product changeover times is a great way

design may suffer from low ink or clogged nozzles which

to increase profits easily, but it makes it easier for an

could in turn cause variations in the finished product.

operator scrambling to execute a rapid changeover to

This may be as innocuous as a discoloration â&#x20AC;&#x201C; which

grab the wrong label. Entering incorrect data for variable

apart from looking strange to the consumer will not be a

label information such as a best before/expiration date

major issue â&#x20AC;&#x201C; or as severe as unreadable information that

is another example of operator error, and while being off

consumers need to know.

a few days is not a bad thing, being off a few months is.

Another example of an equipment malfunction would

Once again the pressure on operators to execute product

be a labeller improperly applying a label to a product

changeovers quickly helps to foster an environment in

or even failing to apply a label entirely. A wrinkled or


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distorted label could also potentially obscure important

itself is also a great help in ensuring the contents of a

information – but more importantly, it makes the product

package match its label.

look shoddy. When trying to convince a customer of the

Mislabelling Detection

quality of one's product, it helps if the product does not look like it fell off the back of a truck. As a general rule, mislabelling errors will mostly be the result of operator error – automation technology has come a long way, after all – but even machines can make mistakes so it pays to be aware of that factor when considering mislabeling prevention.


he suggestions made above will help to significantly reduce the risk of a labeling error during the production process, but labelling errors

will still happen. When that occurs, there are two priorities:

Mislabelling Prevention

Prevent the mislabelled product from leaving the production facility and making it to a retailer, where it may be returned by the retailer or even necessitate a product


recall. This is the most important thing, as it causes the

reventing the creation of mislabelled products in

most potential damage to a company's brand image and

part rests on the shoulders of personnel. While

bottom line.

certainly the pressure will always be there to

Detect the error early and prevent production of

move faster, it is critical to ensure that processes are

further defective products. This cuts down on the cost of

in place to catch any potential errors early. As with any

rework and product waste – the fewer defective products

quality control process, it is up to the manufacturer to

produced, the fewer resources (i.e. time and personnel)

decide the balance between quality and speed. The

need to be delayed.

faster a process goes, the harder it can be to perform

A common method of quality assurance is random

without incident – and the more defective or mislabelled

sampling – taking every nth product and performing an

products that may be created before the error is detected.

inspection. This does not require devoting significant time

The slower a process goes, the higher the cost per unit

resources to the quality assurance process, and is likely

becomes. When the alternative is wasting time on rework

to catch any labelling error. It is not guaranteed to catch

or spending the money that comes with a recall, however,

everything, of course – depending on frequency there

the cost of proactively seeking to reduce the odds of

may still be a risk of a significant amount of defective

mislabelling is less onerous than it appears.

product making it out the door.

Automation can be a great benefit when it comes to

The most effective method for mislabelling detection

this particular process; the ability to quickly verify the

is the use of inline vision inspection. A vision inspection

correct labels are being set up, for example, can be as

system can verify every label on every product on

simple as having operators use a hand scanner to verify

a production line without requiring any reduction

the correct roll of labels are being loaded into the labeller.

of production speeds. Inspecting every product on

Automating the product changeover process further, such

a production line the best way to ensure that any

a connected scanner could even change the profile of the

mislabelled product – even one-off errors – are spotted

labeller (assuming such a change is necessary). Variable

and removed. In addition, a vision system placed near

information such as expiration dates or lot codes could

the labeller (or integrated into the labeller) can be

have a two-step verification process, asking operators to

programmed to send a shutdown signal to production

enter critical information twice to cut down on the risk of

equipment after a certain number of failures. This helps

incorrect data entry. The additional time required in this

to keep the amount of potential product rework low,

case would be minimal – well worth the benefits.

improving the overall productivity of the production line.

There are also far more basic steps to be taken as

Assuming, as always, that it was properly set-up, a vision

well – ensuring that different versions of a given product

system would stop 100% of mislabelled products from

label are clearly marked and stored separately from

leaving the production line.

one another is a good start. Setting aside all the relevant

As with so many facets of the production process,

labels for a given day's production at the beginning of the

success or failure will ultimately come down to personnel.

day is also a good way to ensure a minimum of confusion;

Investing in equipment that is easy to use and the

that may still result in a large amount of materials, of

necessary training will help ensure the success of any

course, but even minor changes such as this can help to

mislabelling prevention effort. With the proper equipment

prevent mislabelling. It goes without saying that having

and training, manufacturers can easily make this common

similar policies in place for the product being packaged

– yet easily preventable – defect a thing of the past. S


Summer 2017


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Make it Glass Marie-Laure Susset, category director for food and NAB, O-I Europe, explains why she believes glass is the perfect material for sauces, condiments and dressings

Price is no longer the determining factor of a brand’s value. Convenience, ease-of-use, taste, added health benefits and other values can be more relevant than a brand name. While the same shopper will buy supermarket own label ‘basics’ range alongside wellestablished luxury brands.

by marie-laure susset

For glass, this is basic stuff. These consumer trends act like a beacon for core glass values.


Glass is natural, made from pure raw materials,

glass jar of sauce. What could be simpler?

chemically inert, preserves the original taste, is infinitely

What could better showcase and build

recyclable, can be re-used, conveys a premium image,

the image of the product it contains?

is table ready and elevates shelf appeal. In other words,

Whether shop bought or made at home

glass is not gaining in popularity because it has suddenly

and preserved in a Le Parfait jar, sauces

become something new, although the industry is keen

are every cook’s cupboard staple to liven up a meal. With

on innovation as you will see. It is popular because it

more and more consumers cooking at home, we need to

speaks to consumers’ hearts and minds and reflects

look at the role packaging plays in the purchase criteria

what matters to them.

for a sauce. While, also vital, is the role of glass packaging

The figures bear this out. An InSite survey from 2014,

to drive value faster than volume and to help brands

conducted for the European Glass Federation, FEVE,

differentiate in a crowded marketplace.

revealed 61 percent of consumers consider glass to be

Firstly, consumers across the world are changing their

the most natural and healthiest packaging material while

behaviour to minimise waste and reduce environmental

55 percent consider it to be the best material to preserve

impact. According to a study undertaken by Nielsen in

the taste of food and beverages.

2014, 52 percent of consumers say they are willing to pay

But what does this look like in practical terms? Let’s

more for products made by companies committed to

look at the trend of sensory indulgence for a moment.

environmental and social responsibility.

While value continues to be important to consumers,

In addition, consumers are taking a proactive

the concept no longer relates solely to price. Consumers

approach to health and wellness. Today’s shoppers

are looking for accessible ways to experience luxury

value high quality ingredients and freshness; they want

and uniqueness – just look at the demand for artisanal

less processed produce and clearer communication

products across all segments of the grocery market.

of what’s in the food they buy. As a result, retailers and

Authenticity, provenance and flavour are key factors in

brand owners alike are rethinking product selection and

purchasing decisions.

merchandising areas to create trusted environments for

Packaging Options

health-conscious shoppers. As well as being sustainable and healthy, consumers also demand food which appeals to the senses: quality trumps quantity (which is why the increasing value of food sold outstrips the growth in volume by about 0.2 percentage points). This has created a mass desire


he Dutch mayonnaise brand Remia has responded to this with a new glass-packed premium line which extends its offering. With distinctive flavours,

for premium products, an obsession with craft and

such as black truffle, rosemary and sea salt, garlic and

authenticity, and a hunger for flavour.

sriracha, Remia knew preservation of taste was key. The

Today's Consumer

proprietary square glass jar they developed with O-I captures this flavour and has a high twist-off closure to extend the label area to create excellent shelf stand-out. Even standard glass ranges have something to offer

A 76

-brands are losing their exclusivity. Millennials

such as the innovative Covet prestige standards launched

seem increasingly willing to trade up or trade

in Latin America. As illustrated by the Peruvian gourmet

down depending on perceived product value.

jam La Canasteria, the super clear flint glass and double

Summer 2017

Sauce Insight


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bottom projects a premium image without investment in a

a functional pouring spout which delivers a more user-

customer design.

friendly product experience and brand differentiation.

Brands are also using glass packaging to

Newer innovations include collaboration with closure

communicate health and wellness. As a category leader

manufacturers to create the additional convenience

in the US baby food market, Beech-Nut wanted to regain

sought by consumers. Foil to Seal is a new technology

market share through product differentiation. It created a

which seals a glass jar and is suitable for cold and hot fill

new natural food for babies and worked with O-I to design

on any product category.

a new honey pot shaped jar. This enhanced shelf visibility

As well as offering an easy way to open the jar, Foil to

and added easy spooning of the contents while giving

Seal provides significant cost reductions compared to a

consumers a direct view of the high-quality contents.

standard twist-off closure.

Polish food company Maspex had a similar rationale

Glass does not have to be round either. The Versaflip

behind its decision to use glass for a new range of

is made for serving. This faceted jar can be used tilted on

ketchups targeting health-conscious consumers. The

its side for improved access and to reduce food waste.

Kotlin range needed special packaging to reflect its status

The innovation is available in a variety of sizes for spreads,

as free from vinegar, preservatives and flavour-enhancers.

dips and other products that need a wide opening for

The company’s previous ketchups had all been packed

dipping. Like much glass packaging, it can be reused by

in PET, but Maspex recognised glass was “a byword for

the consumer for home-made products after its original

quality in the ketchup category”.

contents are eaten. The first adopter of this new offering

While developments like these illustrate well entrenched values of glass, the industry understands it cannot simply rely on its heritage. The use of glass in

has been a range of spicy sauces and dressings from Brazilian manufacturer Olé Products. And jars for sauces do not have to be standards either.

packaging may be 3,500 years old, but usage ideas and

Glass offers great versatility and, just like Remia, brands

innovations keep flowing, especially around the changes

can work with O-I’s designers to create a bespoke jar or

in perceived value as defined by millennial consumers.

bottle, to fully bring to life their brand concept and to better differentiate on the shelves.

Keep Innovating

Each one of these innovations represents part of O-I’s customer-centric approach and is born out of discussions


with brand owners and consumers about the real-life

ne area which consumers say frustrates them is

problems they face. They illustrate how the glass industry

the lack of value caused by an inability to get all

invests to add more functional excellence and relevance

the sauce out of the bottle or jar. As a result, O-I

to the basic glass jar, part of a never-ending movement

developed the Versaflow container, launched in 2013, with


towards perfect packaging. S

Summer 2017


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C omment

Environmentally friendly packaging: As environmental and health issues become increasingly important to today’s consumer, the question on everyone’s lips is - glass or plastic, what’s better? Ruth Woodley, who spent more than 10 years running a UK plastic packaging facility serving the food and health industries, discusses the pros and cons of both materials

from recycled plastic recovered from the sea. More and more, people are focussing on the big basics that really matter – health and environment. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am all for better living through science. But I think it is important not to forget the impact that comes along with the daily life choices we make due to modern advances. Having spent over a decade running a plastic packaging manufacturing company, I spent considerable time defending the health and environmental issues surrounding the choice between plastic versus glass. My days in plastics manufacturing are now over – and with

by ruth woodley

my bias not now dominated by business interests – I can take a less defensive and more objective look at both


sides of the debate. And there are significant pros and

conscious, vegetarian family member or friend, was

change what they purchase in order to reduce their

viewed as the outsider.

exposure to chemicals from packaging. For most people

t is encouraging to see that the movement toward all things natural and environmental continues to

cons for using either material. In 2013, the Glass Packaging Institute (GPI) published

strengthen. A look through current social media

results from a study carried out in the US asking

and news articles shows us an ever increasing

consumers what factors they consider when thinking

interest in simplifying our lives and getting back

about purchasing food and beverages in relation to the

to basics. There was a time when the environmental

packaging. 61 percent of consumers agreed that they

That’s no longer the case.

this immediately puts glass on the front foot. In fact, over

Our social boundaries have changed. Clean eating or

half of the people taking part in the GPI study stated that

following a paleo diet are now viewed as cool and trendy,

they viewed glass to be the healthiest packaging option.

and it’s not just the individual that’s cottoning on. Last year

Let’s get straight to the fact that glass is made purely

major sports brand Adidas launched running shoes made


Summer 2017

from natural components. No nasty unpronounceable

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Why We Should Care chemicals with debate swirling around them not

recycled waste had increased but there was still 338,000

understood by the average consumer. One of the biggest

tonnes unable to be recycled. This was mainly due to

issues for the plastic packaging industry in recent years

householders putting wrong items into the incorrect bins.

has been the controversy surrounding Bisphenol-A (BPA).

Clearly people want to recycle but they are confused.

Due to media exposure this became a topic for discussion

According to the waste reduction charity WRAP at

among the general population. Over the years BPA has

one point in recent years there were over 300 different

largely become accepted by the public as a high risk

recycling schemes being run in the UK alone.

chemical to be avoided. Among scientific circles the

More clarification and consistency is needed to help

debate rumbles on with some studies stating the body

people understand how to recycle their household waste.

can safely metabolise the low dosage of BPA that may

If this help was given to consumers perhaps it would

be ingested. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a mountain of data out there about

encourage people to look at plastic in a slightly better

BPA, plenty of scaremongering, and the public should be

light environmentally. Plastic clearly continues to be a

forgiven for being confused.

popular choice for packaging, so doesn't it make sense

Household recycling is another dividing issue for glass

to maximise the recycling potential? Recycled plastic

versus plastic. The average householder can recycle their

is more versatile than glass and can be recycled or

glass with ease and confidence. The most taxing part is

downcycled into any number of different end uses. Plus

deciding whether to put your glass container in the clear,

it is lighter so transporting the recycled material is less

green or brown recycle bin. And we all know that glass is

impactful both financially and environmentally.

100 percent recyclable. But recycling plastic is another

So what can the manufacturers who are using

ball game altogether. Who checks for the recycle logo

glass and plastic packaging do to maximise on the

on the base of their empty plastic container? And even

current feeling towards healthy living and caring for the

if you do, what do you do with the information you have

environment? When wanting to appeal to the health

gleaned? Do you see separate recycle bins for HDPE,

conscious consumer remember the strong impact glass

PVC or PET? Do you even know which of these materials

packaging has as a choice. Glass clearly touches on

are totally recyclable?

the feeling toward all things wholesome, natural and

Recycling guidelines on the whole need to be clarified.

good. However, there is still much demand for plastic

A UK news article published last year stated that in

packaging, just remember its benefits arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t always

the UK between 2014-15 the quantity of household

obvious to the consumer. S


Summer 2017


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Making Better Ketchup Business partners and friends Marifer Vergara and Gina Eckstadt are aiming to create a veggie-packed condiment umpire, which children of all ages will love. They talk to Sauce Insight about their lightbulb moment, and how they launched their first product, Veg'd Organics Ketchup, into the American condiment market.

could cater a child’s birthday party. At this one birthday party, so many guests asked where they could buy our product, and that’s when we knew we had something special in our hands.

How did you go from making ketchup for friends and family to creating a condiment business? Eckstadt: I’m a professionally trained chef, and I’ve worked for hotels and catering companies for 15 years, and I drew on my experiences and contacts that I’ve made. We were lucky and fortunate to partner with our

by rhian owen

food scientist and production manager. They walked us through the steps and they steered us in the right

The condiment sector, for you Marifer [Vergara], is a change in direction…

direction. Along with that, Marifer’s experience in marketing has really been valuable. She really is the goddess of marketing.

Vergara: Absolutely. I’ve been doing online marketing since 1998, and then I had a brief period where I was also

It sounds like a well-tested division of labour…

a celebrity publicist [for Hollywood actress Sofia Vergara], and now I’m doing food. I think my experience has

Eckstadt: That’s very true. Marifer [Vergara] would be the

prepared me for what the food industry can throw at you.

first to say that she doesn’t cook. Slowly but surely we’re getting her there. We work very well together.

So how does your journey into the condiment space begin? Vergara: The story begins with me and Gina [Eckstadt].

The ketchup market is typically very traditional, with well-known brands dominating the marketplace. Did this concern you?

We had been friends for a while – we met in a toddler play group with our children, and she is the mum you

Eckstadt: We went for it first, before we looked at those

envy. She’s the mum who knows how to cook and

numbers. In America, 97 percent of households have

knows the ways in which her children will eat vegetables.

ketchup, so we think that there is more than enough room

Meanwhile, my kid wouldn’t even eat a carrot. My son

for everybody.

loved ketchup, and I noticed how he would eat anything so long as it was doused in ketchup. He would even put

Vergara: We are very lucky to start our business at this

ketchup on soup.

time. We are noticing how families, how Americans, care more about what goes into their bodies, what they give

Is this how your idea for a veggie-packed ketchup emerged?

their children. We realised that there is no healthy ketchup using clean ingredients, and that’s what a lot of people in America and internationally want.

Vergara: Pretty much. One day I’m with Gina, and I was complaining that I didn’t know what to do about my child’s eating habits, and I wondered whether there was a way to

So it’s a good time for condiment businesses bringing healthier products to market?

put vegetables in a ketchup, and Gina looked at me and said, ‘I can do that’. A couple of days later she showed up

Vergara: Yes, absolutely. I believe the public is waking up.

with samples of ketchup, and we tried them on the kids,

Your body needs wholesome ingredients. And people do

and after altering the recipe four or five times we had the

not want to buy products with ingredients that, frankly,

recipe that we have today. We started bottling it up and

they can’t even pronounce. You stay away from that.

giving it to our friends. The response was incredible – we

Eckstadt: One of our core company values is that eating

had people wanting to buy it and someone asked if we

healthily isn’t a luxury. It shouldn’t cost an arm and a


Summer 2017

Sauce Insight





Gina Eckstadt [left] and Marifer Vergara of Better Ketchup leg to eat well. We are trying to keep it affordable and approachable, and the best version of a classic flavour.

How do you market a product like Veg'd Organics Ketchup, which is aimed at parents and children?

Tell us more. What flavours are you working on right now? Vergara: We can’t tell you that! But what we can say is that our children are our inspiration. We look at what they eat a lot of – maybe that’s mustard, or barbeque sauce,

Vergara: We had two options we considered when we

or something else. There is a lot of options out there. We

were marketing this. Do we market this as a hidden

don’t want to give you the specific details about what’s

vegetables product or do we market it as a vegetable-

next; but it will be delicious, nutritious and clean.

packed ketchup. There’s a real trend for hidden vegetables, but we decided that goes against our mission. We need to be upfront and say vegetables

Marifer [Vergara], does your son eat his vegetables now?

are good for you, and they make food better. So we purposefully went for ‘veggie packed ketchup’ on the

Vergara: Yes, he sure does. When we started our

label. If we had said ‘hidden veggies’ we may have got

company I switched our ketchup at home, with this

more internet traffic, but we decided to go this route

ketchup. At first, I even put it in the same bottle. He

as, for us, we are thinking about our children. We want

didn’t notice I switched it, and he was really enjoying the

people to know there are vegetables in there.


What are your plans and aspirations for Better Ketchup?

I told him the ketchup had carrots, potatoes, butternut

So one day I told him that he was eating vegetables. squash, beets, and tomatoes in it. T hrough the ketchup I’ve been able to teach my pickyEckstadt: We are working towards a condiment umpire.

eater that vegetables are good, that sometimes they

That’s our big picture. We already have another three

might look ugly, but that they’re delicious. Yesterday I

different condiments that we are looking to release in the

even made him brussel sprouts. Now, he approaches

next year, and we are working with our food scientist and

vegetables with an open mind. S

production manager on that.


Summer 2017


date s


e v e nt s


Food Ingredients Europe takes place this November in Frankfurt, Germany

19 – 21 August 2017

Shanghai International Condiments and Food Ingredients Exhibition 2017 Shanghai, China www.chinaexhibition.com 3 – 5 September 2018

Speciality & Fine Food Fair London, UK www.specialityandfinefoodfairs.co.uk 21 – 22 October 2017

SauceFest Houston, US www.saucefestival.com


Summer 2017

28 – 30 November 2017

Foods Ingredients Europe and Natural Ingredients Frankfurt, Germany www.figlobal.com/fieurope 21 – 23 January 2018

Winter Fancy Food Show San Francisco, US www.specialtyfood.com 16 – 18 April 2018

Foodex 2018 Birmingham, UK www.foodex.co.uk

Sauce Insight

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Ensuring consistency The CONSISTOMETER is an instrument used to determine the consistency of viscous materials by measuring the distance that the material flows under its own weight in a given time interval. The instrument allows producers of such viscous products as jellies, preserves, sauces, etc, to predetermine formulas for their product and to standardize production lots. The consistency of a sample is measured by its resistance to flow under specific conditions, for a specified time. The Bostwick Consistometer is one of many instruments designed to make such measurements. The Consistometer is manufactured from stainless steel engraved with a series of precise graduations at 0.5cm intervals. The sample is initially retained in a reservoir behind a spring-loaded gate prior to testing. The Consistometer is made of 316 Stainless Steel (Food Grade) stain-resistant material. It consists of a trough divided into two sections by a gate. The smaller section serves as a reservoir for the material to be tested. The larger has laser etched graduated measurement lines along the bottom in one centimetre divisions beginning at the gate. The gate is spring-operated and is held by a trigger that permits instantaneous release. In operation, the gate slides vertically in the grooves of two posts extending upward from the sides of the trough. The L-shaped trigger release hooks over the top of the gate to hold it in a closed position. Two levelling screws are located at the reservoir end of the trough and a circular spirit level is located at the other end of the trough. Make sure the gate is fully closed before filling the reservoir. The reservoir should always be filled completely to the top. A material should always be tested as quickly as possible after being removed from the constant temperature oven or bath to prevent any consistency changes caused by temperature change or exposure to air.

MAINTENANCE No maintenance should be necessary except occasional checking of the level and cleaning of the troughs after each test. OPERATION Fill the reservoir with the material to be tested and level off the top with a spatula or other straight-edge. Press down on the trigger to open the gate and, at the same time, start a stopwatch. At the end of the selected time period, determine how far the material has flowed along the trough. Take the maximum reading at the centre of the trough and the minimum reading at the edge of the trough, and average the values. The average value is then compared against a previously determined standard. When using the Consistometer, make certain that the gate is fully closed before filling the reservoir. The reservoir should always be filled completely to the top. A material should always be tested as quickly as possible after being removed from the constant temperature oven or bath to prevent any consistency changes caused by temperature change or exposure to air.

24cm: £387|30cm: £437 (ex VAT)


24cm and 30cm Models Engraved Graduations kin 0.5 cm Divisions Wear & Smear Resistant Assures Accurate Results Length 355 mm Long Version 418mm Through length : 240 mm Long Version 300mm Width : 88 mm Height : 104 mm ASTM F1080-93 316 Food Grade Stainless Steel

john@crinstruments.co.uk or sales@crinstruments.co.uk +44 (0) 1202428806 | www.crinstruments.co.uk We are looking for distributors, if your interested please contact us.


Organic Spice Line Non-GMO Project Verified Gluten Controlled Options In-house Steam Sterilization Full Line of Conventional Spices and Herbs Tea Cut Spice Line Roasted & Toasted Spice Line Cryogenic Milling Coordination of Global Process Controls

www.kalustyan.com For more information contact Kerri Goad-Berrios, Vice President, Sales • kerri@kalustyan.com

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Sauce Insight - Issue 1  

The only magazine for the sauces, condiments and dressings industry

Sauce Insight - Issue 1  

The only magazine for the sauces, condiments and dressings industry