AI-based food trends: opportunities in the Asian condiment space for the UK market

Over the past month, Kraft Heinz has launched several new ‘mashup’ condiments in North America.

It started with three new limited-edition sauces – Tarchup, Wasabioli and Hanch – for the Canadian market. Heinz Tarchup features a mix of tartar sauce and ketchup, Wasabioli blends wasabi and garlic aioli, and Hanch is a combination of hot sauce and ranch.

A few weeks later, the company unleashed two more mashup condiments – Sweet Ketchili (ketchup and Thai sweet chilli) and Buffaranch (buffalo and ranch), this time in the US.

While this raft of mashup NPD isn’t representative of US consumer taste preferences as a whole, it is interesting that Kraft Heinz focused on fusions of classic condiments across the two markets.

“There’s a lot of appetite for Heinz mashups as consumers continue to explore bolder and more unique flavour pairings,” said Daniel Gotlib, associate director of brand building and innovation at Kraft Heinz Canada.

This got us to thinking what UK consumers are looking for in sauces and condiments, and where the opportunities are. We know that Korean gochujang has been gathering real momentum over the past year, but are there other emerging Asian sauces/condiments to keep an eye on?

So, armed with Tastewise and the largest data-set in food intelligence – namely over 183,000 restaurants and delivery menus, over 2.8 billion social interactions, and over 1.2 million online recipes; we set about discovering what UK consumers are now looking for with their condiment selections (and what opportunities there might be with lesser-known Asian options in the near future).

Watch out for umami

According to the data, which provides a real-time look at UK consumer preferences and motivations, interest in ‘umami’ flavour profiles is growing 17% YoY.

While Tastewise say that flavour categories can easily overlap, with condiments usually containing multiple profiles; ‘sweet’, ‘sour’ and ‘spicy’ currently lead the way in terms of UK consumer interest and consumption of condiments and sauces.

When it comes to specifically Asian condiments, ‘spicy’ comes out on top with 56% of consumption.

So where are the potential opportunities in the Asian condiment space, and why?

Three to watch

Ssamjang, a thick spicy paste made with Korean soybean paste (doenjang), Korean chili paste (gochujang), looks to be an emerging trend in the UK, with Tastewise telling us it is “showing particular strength in the foodservice space”.

Menu mentions of ssamjang are up 238% YoY, with the condiment starting to grow significantly from October last year.

At present, 44% of consumer conversations about ssamjang focus on it being homemade, while 12% of consumer conversations about ssamjang focus on its vegan qualities.

“As this is still an emerging trend in the mainstream, time will tell what additional motivations will pull consumers to the condiment,” Tastewise told us.

And while starting to make a name for itself as part of ssamjang, doubanjiang is also emerging on its own.

While the amount of UK consumer data on the Korean soybean paste is still small, Tastewise say that doubanjiang is “definitely present and emerging.”

From the available data, we can already see that 26% of consumer conversations about doubanjiang currently focus on its vegan qualities (more than double that of ssamjang).

Finally, it is worth mentioning that UK consumer interest around dashi (Japanese soup stock) is up 25% YoY.

While dashi isn’t technically a condiment, it is strongly associated with umami flavour profiles, and is emerging as a trending ingredient in this space, according to the data.

Tom Gatehouse
Tom Gatehouse
Tom is the editor and co-founder of PURE NPD. Formerly the deputy editor of trends and innovations hub Food Spark, Tom has had chef training in 50 top kitchens across the UK and Europe and is a former Restaurant magazine columnist. Tom has also served as a judge for the 50 Best BBVA Scholarship.

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