Condiments: A Full Guide on the Condiments Industry

May 16, 2024
< back to Guides
Table of Contents

In ancient times, salt was one of the most important commodities. That’s because it was one of the few things that can season food and also preserve it. Since then, the condiments sector has changed drastically. Although most people associate condiments with the fast food industry, there are multiple aspects of this niche market. In this guide, we’ll go through the different elements of the condiments sector. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of the condiments industry and the opportunities it presents. If you’re interested in the seasonings and spices subcategory, you can also check our full guide on the topic of wholesale spices

What Are Condiments

The definition of condiments is food products that can be added to a dish after it has been prepared in order to introduce additional flavor or enhance its taste. Most condiments can also be used as ingredients during the cooking process. Following this definition, we can conclude that there are a few subcategories of condiments.

  • Sauces. They are the most popular category in the sector. Sauces like mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard are 
  • Seasonings. That includes herbs, spices, salt, and pepper. They are often used as ingredients in recipes.
  • Dressings. Some chefs don’t consider dressings as condiments. That’s because they are an essential part of the dish. Nevertheless, dressings like Ranch are often used as dips or as condiments.
  • Seed and vegetable oils. Various no-seed oils can be used to flavor salads or other meals.
  • Sweet condiments. From ice cream toppings to powdered sugar, there are various ways to sweeten desserts.

Condiment Trends

Business owners who wish to maximize the revenue of their food service business can use the latest trends in the condiments sector to their advantage. Let’s examine some of them.

  1. Vegan options;
  2. New and exotic flavors from different parts of the world;
  3. Increased usage of functional ingredients like probiotics and superfoods;
  4. Increased D2C sales and eCommerce trade of condiments and other groceries;
  5. Sustainability during the manufacturing process.

Wholesale Condiments

Businesses in the food service industry and other sectors often purchase condiments in bulk. That includes popular sauces like ketchup and mustard. Some businesses prefer to buy small quantities of herbs and spices as they are prone to moisture and can be hard to store in bulk. A lot of businesses use condiment dispensers with pumps as they can easily be refilled.

Who Buys Wholesale Condiments

  1. Food service businesses. Naturally, restaurants and other food service companies are among the biggest clients of condiment distributors. Small businesses like food trucks or hot dog stands also buy condiments in bulk.
  2. Grocery stores. Retailers purchase condiments at wholesale prices and sell them at retail ones. Some chains also purchase large quantities of condiments and make their own private-label products. 
  3. Specialty food businesses. There are distinct condiments in different parts of the world. That’s why specialty food stores might order condiments from different cuisines and offer them to their customers.
  4. Hospitality groups. Hotels and other hospitality companies purchase condiments for their restaurants. 
  5. Institutions. Schools and hospitals are examples of institutions that need sauces and seasoning products for their kitchens. Some of them order in bulk while others purchase large quantities of single-serve packets.
BlueCart ebooks free

How Distributors of Wholesale Condiments Can Improve Their Business

Companies need to constantly adapt to the market demand and innovations. Allow us to share a few ways distributors in the condiments sector can improve their operations.

  1. Offer a wide range of products from different regions of the world;
  2. Automate certain processes of the business like price management, invoicing, and order management. That can be done with the help of tools like BlueCart;
  3. Be flexible with your MOQs (minimum order quantities) and you’ll be considered as the right supplier for many smaller businesses;

Condiment Containers

Condiments come in various containers. The container serves not only as storage for the product but also to make the usage more convenient. The food and beverage industry searches for new ways to use packaging and containers as part of the branding and marketing of products. Let’s examine some of the popular condiment containers.

  1. Squeeze bottles. Ketchup and mustard, the most popular condiments in the US, are often served in squeeze bottles. A big advantage of this container type is that the bottles can be refilled. Sauces sold in grocery stores often come in squeeze bottles as well.
  2. Glass bottles and jars. Salsa, relish, mayonnaise, and other condiments can easily be stored in glass bottles. The same is true for salad dressings like vinaigrette. People who do home canning can also reuse these containers for canned products.
  3. Single-serve packets. They are commonly associated with fast food and takeout. A variety of sauces come in single-serve packets. They are also used for coffee condiments like creamer and sugar.
  4. Dispensers with pumps. They are the preferred condiment containers for buffets as they can be cleaned and refilled easily. Other self-service establishments from the restaurant industry, including some fast food chains, also used dispensers with pumps.
  5. Plastic containers. Plastic sauce containers can be used for semi-liquid condiments like ketchup and for thicker ones like hummus and other dips.

Condiment Serving Containers

In addition to storing condiments, various containers are used to serve them. That includes metal tableware like sauce boats or ceramic sauce dishes. Let’s examine some of the different containers that are used to serve condiments in restaurants.

  1. Sauce boats. Also called gravy boats, this tableware is used to serve steak sauces and is primarily associated with fine dining restaurants.
  2. Squeeze bottles. They are used for ketchup and mustard. Some restaurants place them on condiment caddies on each table.
  3. Shakers, mills, and grinders. They are common for salt, pepper, and other spices.
  4. Ramekins and sauce dishes. There are various sizes of sauce dishes that can be used to serve condiments.

Starting a Condiment Business

There are multiple opportunities in the condiments industry. A growing number of people wish to try food from different regions of the world. That has led to increased sales of condiments from different cuisines in grocery stores and increased revenues for restaurants that specialize in a specific cuisine. Thus, it might be a good idea to start a condiment import business. Here are some other business ideas related to condiments.

  1. Grow and sell herbs. A growing number of people prefer to purchase organic and locally-grown produce. That’s why starting a business related to growing herbs can be profitable. These products have a high price per pound when sold retail. You can sell them at farmer’s markets or via third-party platforms.
  2. Manufacture sauces. A large proportion of new companies in the condiments sector are focused on making unique hot sauces. They are a high-demand product and the market is not as consolidated as with other sauces like ketchup and mayonnaise. There’s an easier way to start a sauce business. You can partner with companies that offer white-labeling services. That way, you outsource the manufacturing process and need to focus on marketing and distribution. Logistics can also be outsourced by partnering with a 3PL company.
  3. Sell sweet condiments. Jam, jelly, and other sweet preserves are also condiments. They can be used by bakery businesses and various other companies. In addition to selling jam, you can produce custom ice cream toppings or other sweet condiments.
ordering platform for restaurants

Condiments in Restaurants

Restaurants use a wide range of condiments. From ketchup and mustard to hot sauces and soy sauce. Although condiments are primarily used to flavor prepared dishes, they can also be used as ingredients. For example, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and various spices are common ingredients in meat rubs. Relishes and salsa are an essential part of Mexican cuisine. 

Condiment Holders for Restaurants

Condiments can be on each table or on condiment stations. Some condiments are served in different types of tableware. Here are some of the common condiment holders used by food service businesses.

  1. Caddies. They come with a couple of compartments and can store shakers, mills, or bottles. 
  2. Organizers. They are popular in buffets and behind bar counters. They can be used to store sauces or beverage condiments like lemon slices.
  3. Dispensers. These holders have a pump that is used to easily put sauce on food. Most condiments dispensers have only two to four compartments and they are filled with the most popular sauces such as ketchup, mustard, and mayo.
  4. Tableware. Distributors of wholesale restaurant supplies offer a variety of tableware for condiments. They can be customized based on the style of the establishment or made of different materials.

The Condiments Market

Establishing the size of the condiment market can be a difficult task. That’s because the definition of condiments varies in different countries. For example, olive oil can be considered as a condiment but vegetable and seed oils rarely fall under the condiment category when doing a market analysis. The same is true for seasoning and sweet preserves.

Trends in the Condiment Industry

  1. Cooking at home. A growing number of people have been cooking more frequently. That has increased sales of condiments.
  2. New sauces. People wish to experience new and different flavors. That has led to the development of new sauces, especially in the field of hot sauces. 
  3. Convenience. Condiments should be packaged in a convenient way so that they can be easily used.
  4. Healthy products. A growing trend among consumers is that they search for healthier options when they buy food. That includes products with limited or no additives, gluten-free options, and plant-based alternatives.
  5. Gourmet products. Goods like caviar and other artisanal products have been in high demand in recent years. That includes custom sauces that are produced in small batches and have a limited supply.

Condiments for Different Food

The type of condiments used depends on various factors like the style of the dish, customer preferences, and even the policy of the establishment. Some restaurants might not allow customers to use condiments on their meals. For example, if you go into a traditional Italian restaurant, it might be considered offensive to ask for ketchup for your pizza. Yes, Italians take their cuisine very seriously.

American Food Condiments

  1. Mayonnaise;
  2. Ketchup;
  3. Mustard;
  4. Barbecue sauce;
  5. Hot sauce;
  6. Ranch dressing;
  7. Relish and salsa.

Mexican Food Condiments

  1. Salsa roja and salsa verde;
  2. Pico de gallo;
  3. Hot sauce;
  4. Mexican cheese sauces and dips;
  5. Guacamole.

Chinese Food Condiments

  1. Soy sauce;
  2. Sesame oil;
  3. Hoisin sauce;
  4. Chili oil;
  5. Bean sauce;
  6. Oyster sauce.

Italian Food Condiments

  1. Extra virgin olive oil;
  2. Balsamic vinegar;
  3. Pesto;
  4. Tomato sauce combined with organic herbs and spices;
  5. Italian cheeses;
demo request BlueCart

Common Condiments Around the World

Popular Condiments in the US

Condiments are among the most popular food products in the US and the West. Their role is to flavor the meal and sometimes to change its texture. The most popular condiments in the US are:

  • Ketchup;
  • Mayonnaise;
  • Mustard;
  • Barbecue sauce;
  • Hot sauce.

Popular Condiments in Asian Cuisine

A lot of Asian dishes are made with sauces and condiments used as ingredients. Here are some examples of the common condiments in Asian countries.

  1. Soy sauce;
  2. Sriracha – a chili sauce that comes from Thai cuisine but has become popular around the world, including in the US;
  3. Fish sauce – made of fermented fish and salt;
  4. Sesame oil – its nutty flavor makes it a great ingredient and condiment;
  5. Kimchi – a Korean condiment with a spicy and sour taste that is made from fermented vegetables.

Popular Condiments in European Cuisines

Naturally, products like ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise are among the most popular condiments in most European countries. In fact, a lot of the condiments that are popular in the US have European origins. Here are a few examples of other traditional European condiments.

  1. Pesto – Italian paste used to flavor pasta dishes or salads;
  2. Tzatziki – a Greek salad that can also be used as a dip or condiment;
  3. Tapenade – olives are the main ingredient of this paste;
  4. Aioli – this sauce combines mayonnaise, mustard, egg yolks, oil, and garlic;
  5. Whisky sauce – it originates from Scotland but has become popular across the world. There are multiple varieties and blends such as the whisky barbecue sauce.

Sauce VS Condiment

Although the terms sauce and condiment are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between the two. The definition of condiments is food products that cannot be eaten on their own and are used to flavor meals or as ingredients. As such, sauces are only one subcategory of the overall condiments industry. Albeit, sauces are the most popular types of condiments. In rare cases, sauces are not condiments. For example, in a dish like spaghetti with sauce, the sauce is an essential ingredient to the dish. Thus, it’s not a condiment. In that specific example, a condiment will be parmesan cheese if it’s put on top of the meal.

Streamline order management, grow your bottom line, and get back hours of your time with BlueCart. Schedule a demo now:
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Book a Demo