McCormick Recipe Inspirations pack in spices and recipe.

A glimpse into packaging for the condiments market, which helps flavor these products with a healthy dash of convenience.

by Elisabeth Cuneo, Associate Editor

Sales of condiments of all types including sauces, dressings and spices are on the climb. According to recent research from Mintel, the cooking sauces and marinades category gained 20% in U.S. retail sales between 2005 and 2010 and is expected to increase another 19% by 2015.

Why is the market gaining momentum and how are manufacturers responding?

There has been an influx of consumers cooking at home and a growing demand for convenience which has manufacturers working harder to introduce new, more convenient products. And a common, crucial ingredient for convenience? Packaging, of course.

Cooking with convenience

Sauces and condiment sales are growing as consumers are eating more ethnic and exotic cuisine, and as exotic foods grow in popularity, so does convenient packaging of these food items.  Several food brands today allow consumers to purchase homemade quality global foods pre-packaged for home use. Conservas la Costeña offers classic Mexican sauces in the aseptic carton pack, ideal for home use.

Tim Kirchen, head of marketing & business development North America and Mexico at SIG Combibloc adds, “During the manufacturing process, foods are rapidly ultra-high heated, quickly cooled again, and then filled into sterilized carton packs. Packaged in these cartons, foods are hygienically protected, airtight and impervious to light, and can be kept for a prolonged period without preservatives or refrigeration. The nutrients and vitamins in the foods are retained – and so are the excellent taste and the full, rich flavor.”

Consumers are doing more cooking of all types of meals at home. And an increase in home cooking births an increase in shopping for condiments and spices.

According to Mintel, 83% of adults who prepare meals at home attest to using sauces, marinades or dry seasonings. Store-bought marinades are most popular with 74% of home cooks using them.

While cooking at home is on the rise, as is demand for convenience as consumers today have generally less time to prepare meals. In response, McCormick has launched an easy way to create a home cooked meal with its Recipe Inspirations line. Each packet includes a recipe card and premeasured spices to create the ideally spiced dish. There are a dozen recipe flavors, each containing six spices premeasured and self contained in clear plastic so the consumer can see each spice. The spice portions, which peel open from the rear, are exactly matched to the variety and portions required for the recipe.

Kikkoman, known for its soy sauce and marinades, has launched a convenient spice packets line as well, a full line of seasoning packets to be used for almost any culinary creation. The company boasts 10 varieties of combination spices in 1-oz paper packets featuring a visually appealing photograph of the desired dish from Broccoli-Beef to Szechwan Shrimp and even Pad Thai. Kikkoman’s website includes recipe options for each variety to ensure easy meal time preparation.

Imperial Sugar is meeting demand for convenience with its introduction of its individually portioned brown sugar packets for ease of baking. Every box contains 12 pouches, each containing a ¼ cup brown sugar. In addition to convenience, Imperial is highlighting the product’s ease of use and prolonged freshness with statements on its packaging, “No Mess, Always Fresh.”

New E-Z Zip pouch takes up less shelf space.

Unique packaging attracts consumers

With trends toward higher consumption of packages condiments, there’s no wonder that companies are getting more creative with condiment packaging.

Heinz temporarily relaunched an American icon with the release of a new collector’s edition of Heinz Tomato Ketchup, available in classic octagonal 14-oz glass bottles by Owens-Illinois. Absent from grocery store shelves for more than 10 years, the limited edition glass bottle of Heinz Tomato Ketchup features a vintage-inspired design to bring some nostalgia to the household name.

“While the convenience of our current, squeezable bottles found in grocery stores has been a hit with today’s families and their lifestyles, consumers still associate Heinz Ketchup with our iconic glass bottle and routinely ask where they can find them,” says Noel Geoffroy, vice president of Heinz Brands. “In response to that consumer demand and to inspire memories of and relive good times from summers past, we wanted to bring back the glass bottle with a limited edition design that gives a nod to the product’s 135-year history.”

When Heinz Tomato Ketchup was first introduced in 1876, it was bottled in clear glass to reveal its purity. It was not until several years later that the world-famous octagonal bottle debuted. The glass bottle was sold in stores until the 1990s, when it was replaced with the squeezable plastic bottle that was first introduced in 1983. Capturing the essence and heritage of the Heinz Ketchup brand, the label design of the new limited edition glass bottle was inspired by a vintage packet of tomato seeds.

Heinz also released a new look for its individual serving ketchup packages, called the Heinz Dip & Squeeze® Ketchup package. The new package holds three times more ketchup than standard condiment pouches and uses less comparable packaging. Comprised of a peelable flexible lid over a thermoformed pocket, the Dip & Squeeze allows consumers to either tear off the tip and squeeze out the condiment, or peel back the lid from the bottom and dip french fries or other finger foods.

According to Dr. Michael Okoroafor, VP of packaging R&D/innovation for H. J. Heinz Co., the package was developed in response to consumer demand for a ketchup container that can be used for either dipping or squeezing. It offers better functionality and convenience than typical sachets by providing two different usage options – tearing off the top or “cap” for squeezing, or peeling off the lid for dipping.

Another company to improve condiment packets through convenience is Hellmann’s. Hellmann’s released the E-Z ZIP reclosable, stand-up pouch from Ampac for its individually packaged mayonnaise. The flexible package replaces traditional paperboard packaging and holds 75 individual, serving-sized mayonnaise packets. The pouch design reduces the amount of packaging required, stores easily and takes up less shelf space than a paperboard box. It provides a more contemporary billboard for the brand on the retail shelf, and the package is more recognizable and easy to locate for its intended consumer.

Packaging today must meet the growing demand for convenience while attracting consumer attention on the shelves. If innovation is born out of demand, expect to continue to see creative and convenient packaging spicing up the condiments aisle.

For More Information:




SIG Combibloc

Morton’s Umbrella Girl transforms over decades.

A trusted image in salt: The Umbrella Girl

Playing into nostalgic packaging, Morton Salt has stuck with the same icon for decades, the little girl with the umbrella. The girl has undergone only six slight changes since its introduction in 1914. As a result of keeping the iconic figure, the packaging is recognizable to all, overcoming generational gaps in consumers.

 In 1911, Morton’s first advertising campaign for a series of ads in Good Housekeeping created the idea for the girl and her slogan, “When it Rains it Pours.” The concept was a hit- an image of a little girl holding an umbrella in one hand to ward off falling rain and a package of salt in the other hand that was tilted back with the spout open and salt running out. Morton loved the picture that expressed the Morton message - that salt would run even in damp weather.  To accompany the image, eventually the now famous slogan was born, “When it Rains it Pours.”

While the icon of the umbrella girl remains ageless, she has continued to change with the times. The first makeover to modernize her looks was in 1921 and then again in 1933, 1941, 1956 and 1968. In spite of slight tweaks to the image, the girl remains a recognizable figure and reminds consumers that Morton has been making salt for over 150 years with the same trusted package and value.

Taco Bell’s hot sauce packet ‘converses’ with consumers.

Saucy sayings make an impression

Taco Bell is leaving a mark (no, not a sauce stain) on consumers with their hot sauce packets, which feature kitschy sayings including;

“Do I know you from somewhere?”

“We could all use a little squeeze now and then”

“Ahhhh we meet again”

Designed by Denby Creative, out of San Francisco, these packets are meant to get consumers talking and feed their curiosity and cravings for more hot sauce wisdom. In 2003 Taco Bell rolled out the sauce packets with witty sayings and then in September 2004 launched a contest named “Share Your Sauce Wisdom.” The contest engaged consumers to come up with the next clever phrase to be printed. Today there are dozens of different sayings in circulation.

Available in all Taco Bell stores, and available for purchase online for those sauce enthusiasts, the packets have stirred up a lot of attention. Taco Bell, recognizing the hot sauces’ popularity, created an interactive website allowing consumers to humanize the hot sauce packets by dressing them up. On the website, visitors can pick a sauce flavor and dress it with choices of clothing, accessories and even a background to place the packet in. The proof is in the sauce (packaging) that humor--and personification-- is always well received.

For more information:

Denby Creative