In Tough Times, Americans Are Really Hitting the Sauce

In Tough Times, Americans Are Really Hitting the Sauce Since the economy went bland, Americans have been trying to spice things up at home, and they're pouring on a lot of sauce to do it. Sales of cooking sauces have risen 20% between 2005 and 2010, according to a new report from market research firm Mintel, just another sign that financially cautious Americans are looking to save money by spending more time in the kitchen. Mintel predicts sales of sauces, dry seasonings and marinades will increase another 19% over the next five years.

More than 50% of consumers surveyed reported cooking at home with greater frequency, and 83% of those who are manning the stove said they use off-the-shelf sauces and dry seasonings to prepare meals, according to the study.

Hot sauce giant Tabasco is among the companies that have benefited from the trend. "The past five years have been an unexpectedly exciting culinary time in our country," Tabasco spokesman Jon Lyon told DailyFinance. "One of the unforeseen side effects of the recent economic downturn is that many Americans have returned to their home kitchens and are experimenting with new flavors and cuisines to keep things interesting."

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Around 75% of home cooks indicated they use store-bought marinades, and 51% use a mixture of off-the-shelf and homemade sauces, the study said.

Companies are trying to keep up with the trend by introducing new sauces and recipes, according to the research. Tabasco, which technically falls under the condiments segment of the sauce industry, said it has added chipotle and Buffalo sauces to its product line to meet the demand for new flavors.

The market that combines condiments, sauces, dressings and seasonings will reach $72 billion by 2015, according to Global Industry Analysts. But David Browne, senior analyst at Mintel, said that industry advertising will have to pour it on as the economy improves. "This sector may see some challenges in the next few years with people starting to eat out more, higher ingredient prices deterring purchases, and easy-to-prepare convenience foods like frozen entrees and pre-seasoned meats increasing in the marketplace," he said.

McIlhenny Company, the privately held maker of Tabasco since 1868, appears to have little cause for concern. The company held a reported 34% market share in the hot sauce business in the 1990s, and remains a fixture in restaurants and kitchens. "Regardless of our country's economic state, we will continue to produce the iconic Tabasco pepper sauce that Americans know and rely on," Lyon said.
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