Greencore Grocery supplies retailers with own branded cooking sauces, salsas, dips, pickles, marinades, table sauces and cooking pastes in the UK and Worldwide.
The manufacturer works closely with its customers to ensure it is responding to consumer needs. Consumer research indicated a growing interest in healthy eating and specifically a heightened awareness of the amount of salt and sugar in cooking sauces.
In response, Greencore and Musgrave worked together to reformulate their cooking sauces so that the amount of sugar and salt decreased and the nutritional content improved.
Setting the bar
Using the leading brand in the market as a benchmark, the plan was to gradually reduce added sugar ensuring that taste, texture and overall performance of the sauce were not negatively affected. Salt was reduced to meet the challenging guidelines set out by the Food Standards Agency.
Reducing ingredients without compromising flavour
The benchmark products are made using a different manufacturing process to Greencore and therefore matching product attributes was challenging.
When reducing ingredients, getting the balance right is essential to ensure that flavour is not compromised. To improve the quality, flavour and consistency of the sauce, the tomato and vegetable content were boosted. This involved making changes to production processes, which was no easy task and involved divisions across the whole business. New ingredients had to be sourced, new procedures were created and continual feedback on samples throughout the process had to be sought.
Triangle tests (where three products are tasted, one different and two alike samples), blind panels and benchmarking sessions were carried out throughout the project to ensure taste and flavour expectations were met.
In total, the whole process took eight months to complete and achieved some great results. On average, Greencore reduced salt by 21% and sugar by 33% in its cooking sauces for Musgrave.
The project was possible because of the positive, collaborative relationship between Musgrave and Greencore, and a mutual understanding of the desired outcome.
The reformulation work has generated greater levels of consumer satisfaction for the cooking sauces and sales have been consistent. Greencore and Musgrave are hopeful that the change will provide a platform for further growth over time.