Spread the Profits

Popular upscale condiments sold in the deli can help sandwiches shine.

Keith Loria

The grocery aisles are uniformly rigid shelving and limited in their ability to really call out a new product other than a drop-down tag or shelf hooks, but the deli, in addition to a few set permanent island fixtures, truly allows the ability to have free-standing racks and create pairings of complimentary items. 

If you step back and think about it, where else can you obtain an array of meats, cheeses, condiments, breads and wraps all in one area of the store?

That’s why condiment manufacturers aim to have their products in the deli section and used by deli operators when making sandwiches for the grab-and-go crowd. 

“The deli has always worked well for us, and our condiments are such a natural item to pair with their lunchmeat and other deli item purchases,” says Tom Orlando, national sales director for Pittsburgh-based Conroy Foods. “We have a great track record and have been in business long enough that our loyal customer base specifically looks for our product within the deli.”

Silver Spring Foods, headquartered in Eau Claire, WI, offers a lineup of prepared and flavored mustards, prepared horseradish and some sauces at the deli counter. 

“We’re seeing more demand in ethnic flavors, spicy flavors and mash-ups of ingredients you might not think go together,” says Judy Christensen, lead research and development/technical services supervisor and certified food scientist at Silver Spring Foods. “We look to see what flavors are trendy in the market, and we build our mustards and sauces based on those.” 

During the pandemic, business for Silver Spring Foods went way-up in the mustard segment, as more customers were coming into supermarkets for sandwiches. Business continues to be strong in the early days of 2023, as more consumers rely on condiments to bolster their foods. 

Laura Morris, associate marketing director for Kayco Beyond, a manufacturer of kosher foods based in Bayonne, NJ, notes something people are looking for are ways to add flavor and extra nutritional value to whatever they are putting the condiment on. 

“For example, Mighty Sesame tahini has over 7 grams of protein, which enhances the nutritional value of whatever it is served on,” she says. “I also think the convenience and versatility of the condiment will play a huge part in consumers’ decision of whether to purchase it again in the future.”

New and Improved

Last year, Silver Spring Foods launched an Everything Bagel Mustard to much fanfare, and it has been one of its best sellers. Other new items included a Stoneground mustard, which hadn’t been in its lineup previously; and a non-GMO horseradish.

“We are constantly watching what’s new and trendy; we make recipes in our test kitchen all the time and as a team, we consider what looks best in our lineup,” Christensen says. “We look at flavor trends and what we think could be successful.” 

The innovative flavor trends of 2022 were those deli operators that used customized sauces that are exclusive to the store’s program. For example, you take the sriracha trend and blend with a mayo and sweet chili sauce to create a unique profile that can be used as a condiment, dip or topping. 

“In addition to offering the classic stable of condiments, delis need to have a healthy or better-for-you clean condiment offering and also take advantage of the seasonal offerings to create unique pairings of sandwich and condiment,” says Orlando. 

He notes healthy, clean ingredients in condiments are now more of a mainstay as consumers take note of less ingredients on the package. 

“Plant-based items are another category that holds tremendous opportunity for our deli condiments,” he says. “Dressing up a plant-based meat or chicken burger allows the consumer to mirror the taste profile they were used to with the actual meat items.”

Orlando adds that today’s consumer is being inundated by so many line extensions within the condiment category, as a wide variety of new items from many companies are trying to capture new consumers that experiment with combining some of their existing products or positioning minor flavor profile changes as a line extension. 

“I still believe, and our sales support this belief, that consumers still want good tasting, value- positioned products with positive ingredient attributes that can be enjoyed by the whole family,” he says. 

Kayco received positive feedback just by adding a kick of harissa spice to its newest Mighty Sesame flavor.

“It can be surprisingly transformative when you make small adjustments to a common flavor,” Morris says. “A development we’ve seen in recent years is people not being scared to try new flavors. We are constantly elevating our pallets by adding bold flavors to classic condiments, such as adding harissa to tahini or truffle to hot sauce.”

Dips and Spreads

One condiment category gaining ground on the mustards and mayos of the world is dips, which are seeing more bold flavors and consumers adding this to their sandwich offerings.

Mike Degrace, senior vice president of sales at Bitchin’ Sauce, based in Carlsbad, CA, notes for the past few years many folks have been cooped up in their homes dealing with uncertainty as a result of the pandemic. As they begin to reemerge and socialize, they’re increasingly looking for dips and spreads that meet their needs to live healthy while serving platters and dishes that include tastes that simply delight their family and friends

“The three key areas that I’ve noticed have consistently driven category growth in condiments over the past few years center on healthy lifestyles, bold flavors and uniqueness, differentiation and affordability,” he says. “Nut-based dips, guacamoles and many fresh salsas are becoming more popular and driving the largest growth.”

Bitchin’ Sauce is an almond-based dipping sauce that is gluten free, vegan, kosher, non-GMO and organic.

“Our fan flavor favorites in 2022 include perennial standouts Chipotle (Southwest delight with a heat that’s just right), Original (creamy lemon & garlic) and Cilantro Chili (fresh and zesty), but some emerging flavors really started to hit the mark in 2022 also,” says Degrace. “Many shoppers contracted the Bitchin’ addiction when they tried our Caramelized Onion, Spinach Artichoke, Roasted Green Chile & Pepita and Buffalo flavors.”

In 2023, the company plans on launching new flavors including Panang Curry, Hatch and Dill Pickle.

“People are better educated than ever before and understand the direct connection between what they eat and how they feel,” says Degrace. “Plant-based foods are winning across all categories, and ours is no different. More shoppers than ever before are turning packages over to read labels. Brands that feature really simple, clean ingredient decks are being rewarded with more frequent category purchases.”

Carl H. Cappelli, senior vice president of sales and business development for Don’s Prepared Foods, headquartered in Schwenksville, PA, views the company’s dips as perfect condiments for sandwiches, wraps and flatbreads.

“Consumers want fresh, cool flavors that are clean and indulgent,” he says. “Our dips can be used on a sandwich, such as Don’s Artichoke & Asiago Dip on a grilled chicken or panini sandwich.

Some of the company’s most popular flavors this year were its Cajun Krab, Artichoke & Asiago, an Buffalo Chicken Dips.

Staples and Top Products

Silver Spring Foods’ best-selling product is its Beer’n-Brat mustard, which has a kick of horseradish along with a spicy brown mustard base. Another heavy hitter is its Dijon mustard.

“We try to keep something in our lineup for everyone, so we can hit any customer and any kind of mood they are in, it can fit what they want to eat,” Christensen said. “We have offerings for people who want that bigger punch of spice or just the basics.” 

The basic staple of condiments for Conroy Foods includes its best-selling Deli Mustard, Horse Radish Sauce and Original Submarine Dressing.

“To capture an expanded taste profile of the consumer, we have multiple line extensions,” Orlando says. “For example, we have jalapeño and Pineapple Honey mustards, which is a line extension, from our original Deli mustard. We also offer a Balsamic Submarine Dressing and an Olive Oil Submarine Dressing from our Original Submarine Dressing. All of our products are packaged in shelf-ready packing, and our bottles have a unique flip top applicator.”

Marketing and Merchandising 

When marketing its products at the deli, Silver Spring Foods looks to highlight some of its new and unique flavors and has helped deli partners find success with its signage and packaging. 

Although Conroy Foods has had a deli condiment shipper program for several years, the company has really focused on customizing the program to meet specific retail needs and allow retailers to capture the season, theme or event it is promoting. 

While different combinations of stand-alone condiments will continue to be marketed, Conroy Foods has so many flavor profiles in its line that most consumers pair and mix to their preferred taste, and the company draws attention to this with its merchandising strategy.

“We have six header cards depicting seasonal themes, and all of these headers are interchangeable on the shipper base so depending upon the holiday or event, we have a themed header card and coordinate the product to mix to match the theme,” says Orlando. “For example, our ‘Light up your Holiday Parties’ theme usually contains our number one seller, Submarine Dressing paired with the Cranberry Honey Mustard and the Pineapple Hone Mustard.”

Degrace recommends that Bitchin’ Sauce be merchandised in the deli dips set right next to hummus, guacs and salsas. 

“We know that our brand is a crowd pleaser, and because of this we recommend that customers feature our brand in ads or digitally and merchandise Bitchin’ Sauce prominently in secondary locations to drive impulse, incremental sales,” he says. “We regularly offer our customers custom trade and marketing programs with the intent to drive trials. We also do a whole lot of demos—both in store and digitally.”

There’s no doubt that consumers are interested in trying new condiment flavors, so delis can provide a great service by offering something new.


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