Condiments are Crucial

The role of condiments in the food service industry cannot be overemphasised. Though their definition may vary, with some definitions of condiments even including herbs and spices in the ambit of condiments, but about their importance there is hardly any dispute. Though condiments in themselves are seldom partaken, but they play huge roles in adding value to the quality of dining experience. Mustard, tomato ketchup and mayonnaise are some of the important condiments which are playing a significant role in our food service industry. 

The condiments add to the taste of the food, often in crucial ways. Condiments can be added prior to serving, or during cooking. They can also be had while having food. The example of the first is a sandwich made with ketchup or mustard where ketchup and mustard serve as condiments. Barbecue sauce and soy sauce are examples of usage of condiments during cooking process. The apt example of the usage of condiment during eating is the use of sauce while having omelette during breakfast. 

“Nowadays, globally the quality of condiments has become an expression of the quality of a food service operator,” stated Akshay Bector, Chairman & Managing Director, Cremica Food Industries Limited. The company is an important player in the Indian condiments business.  Cremica Food Industries Limited is a part of Cremica Group. The product profile of Cremica includes Indian gravies /curries, tomato ketchup, sauces, bread spreads, mayonnaise, syrups, toppings, salad dressings and Indian snacks, fruit & flavoured syrups among others. 

“We are finding that with changing lifestyles, and with increase in income levels in select but sizeable pockets of middle class India there has been a big increase in consumption of condiments and growth of the food services sector in the country.  This market environment helps in familiarising customers about new types of products in the realm of condiments and is helping innovative companies like us to introduce new condiments in the market,” asserted Bector. 

Growth in Demand 

According to a research, The Indian condiments market stood at $638.96 million in 2018 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of over 13%, to reach $1340.5 million by 2024. Anticipated growth in the market can be attributed to increasing cross-cultural interaction, inclination towards consumption of western food & cuisines and growing number of modern retail outlets offering price and convenience advantages to the customers.

No wonder the Indian condiments market is showing impressive growth. The Indian ketchup market has increased exponentially during the last few years. The Indian ketchup and sauce market is dominated by tomato ketchup and tomato sauces. Mustard sauce is also gaining quick popularity. New flavours like mustard and barbeques are widely accepted across nation and marketers are experimenting with the product sizes and convenience packing to increase penetration. 

The deep penetration of international dishes like pastas and other noodles has boosted the regular consumption of sauces and ketchups across all ages. And this trend is only expected to gather momentum in the years to come. In fact, the entire condiments segment is slated for a bright future in the Indian food service industry. Bector confidently projected that “In the next few years, the Indian middle classes would rely on food service industry in a very big way.”  With nuclear families on the rise coupled with fast-paced lifestyles, people in India are expected to rely more on appetising snacking options in QSRs and other eating out outlets, in the years to come. This in turn would give a fillip to the condiments business in the country, as it is difficult to conceive a delicious burger or a pizza or even a samosa without the appropriate condiment to complement it.

This is the demand side of the story. There is a supply side of the story too. Another reason for the growth of the condiments business in the country could be accounted by the impressive processed fruits and vegetables market in India, which is also very buoyant. The key categories under processed F&V include jams, jellies, juices, sauces and ketchups. 

Especially the demand for processed tomato products like tomato paste, tomato puree, tomato ketchup and tomato sauces is expected to considerably enhance in the country due to the changing eating habits of younger consumers with increasing disposable incomes.

However, it would be simplistic to assume that the growth in the condiments business in India would be largely propelled by tomato ketchup. “The sandwich market in urban India is expected to expand very fast,” concurred Bector. This in turn indicates a better scenario for the mayonnaise and mustard sales in the country, in the near future. 

Local Preferences   

But new entrants in the food service industry should bear in mind that not every condiment is suitable for every kind of food. Condiments should be intelligently matched with the dishes served. 

Besides that the condiments’ usage by the food service establishments in India should take into account of the local preferences. “Condiment has to complement the product and also the local preferences to become a success with the guests, especially in India,” affirmed Bector.  The corporate honcho feels that despite the waves of globalisation, local cuisine-based food service is expected to do very well in the Indian market and this entails that it would be pragmatic for the condiments manufacturer in India to tailor and market many of their condiment products according to varied local preferences. “If we produce condiments while keeping the local preferences in mind, the market for condiments in India is expected to only grow,” explained Bector. 

Product and Innovation 

Presently, the quality of tomato ketchup is a matter of concern with carrot and pumpkin adulteration being rampant. Still a great number of operators in the unorganised food service sector in the country largely depend on homemade ketchups & sauces, where standarisation in quality is always a suspect. However, compromise in ketchup quality is not only limited to the unorganised food service sector in India. 

But the food service outlets, especially the high-end food service outlets in the country must realise that the quality of condiments are expected to play an even more important role in the Indian food service business, as the consumers are getting more and more discerning. 

As the market for condiments business in India gets hotter, more and more players are expected to enter the segment. This will give the discerning segment of Indian consumers (whose numbers are increasing) more choices in terms of condiments and many of them are unlikely to settle for inferior quality of condiments. Thus quality and innovation will be key factors to create a long-term business in the Indian condiments market. In this regard, Bector feels that they have an edge in the market. “Cremica is known for product innovations and for offering customised and localised food products to the consumers. We are trying to offer as natural products as possible to our customers,” he offered. 

In this regard, the entrepreneur stated that they had introduced  the improved versions of Sandwich Mayo range in the retail market as well as across the food service industry, which have been developed to be grill stable. They come in flavours specially suited for the Indian market. The flavours for this sandwich mayo range include chipotle, cheese, korma, tandoori, mint, pickle tickle among others. “Besides this the improved version of our already world class salad dressing range was introduced to cater to the discerning demand in both retail and food service category. The improved versions of Salad Dressing is available in five flavours i.e. Caesar, Russian, Italian, Thousand Island and Vinaigrette,” he added further. 

Moreover, increased focus on R&D activities in the food industry has brought various development in food quality and innovations in products such as sugar-free and gluten free condiments which is stimulating the trend of healthy living. This factor is expected to provide ample opportunities for the condiments market by 2024. Additionally, emergence of diet sauces and other condiments is also expected to fuel growth in the market. Furthermore, increasing standards of living, changing lifestyle and rising demand for sophisticated taste in meal are emerging trends in the industry.

Quality Matters 

A marked upward shift in the quality of condiments can facilitate in enhancing restaurants’ business. “The difference in price between a high quality condiment and an average quality condiment may not be much, but the difference in the restaurant’s revenues that the marked difference in the quality of condiments can accrue significantly in the long-run, especially if viewed in the context of the fast evolving Indian food service industry,” explained Bector further. 

Moreover, he thinks that purchasing high quality tomato ketchup is expected to save money for the buyer in the long-run (though having high quality tomato ketchup may apparently seem to be a slightly costly proposition in the immediate future) as consumers tend to feel satiated by using a much smaller quantity of high quality tomato rich ketchup than what they would be needing if the ketchup is diluted in terms of its infusion of tomatoes.  

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