Mintel says tomatoes are feeling the squeeze in the German ketchup market, as one in five new ketchup launches during the past year have centered on alternative vegetables like beetroot, carrot or pumpkin, reports Food Navigator.
Companies aim to appeal to more sophisticated consumer palates and promote the healthy connotations of vegetables – as well as fruits including mango, orange and plum – in these alternative ketchups, according to a Mintel blog post.
Products include Georg Thalhammer’s Mild Pumpkin Ketchup and Herr Edelmann’s Smokey Orange or Organic Mango ketchups. The trend has already spread to the United Kingdom where The Foraging Fox sells beetroot-based ketchup in three varieties: original, smoked and hot.
Ketchup has been under pressure in an increasingly diverse condiments aisle for several years, competing with hot, barbecue and chili sauces along with different types of ketchup. In the United States, although big brands like Heinz and Hunt’s still dominate, they are losing market share to smaller players. In the barbecue sauce category, Sweet Baby Ray’s now outsells the Kraft Heinz brand three to one. It only took the leading position as recently as 2009.
Sir Kensington’s is among a number of smaller brands making waves in the U.S. ketchup market, with a product based on natural ingredients, including organic tomatoes, and less sugar than some established brands. The founders have said they decided to innovate in the ketchup category precisely because there had been little innovation for several decades. Sir Kensington's popularity attracted the attention of Unilever, which agreed to purchase the condiment maker for an undisclosed amount in April.
Heinz had some initial sales success with its green and purple colored ketchup back in the early 2000s, but the novelty soon wore off. After sales continued to fall, EZ Squirt was pulled from the shelves by January 2006.
Just as Sir Kensington’s has aimed to do with its organic tomatoes, using other fruits and vegetables taps into a growing consumer trend for natural, healthier foods. The ketchups that have been launched in Europe do not aim to mimic category leaders, but rather to create more interes ting flavors.
The Foraging Fox’s beetroot ketchup, for example, also was founded on the basis of natural, allergen-free ingredients with no artificial additives. These are key purchase drivers in the United States, too, so it is likely to be only a matter of time before a more diverse range of ketchup alternatives arrives on these shores. The U.S. ketchup leaders would be wise to introduce more of these varieties before the more nimble upstarts do, or they'll be left to catch up.