Production, Consumption and Exportation Trends
Salsa, in its various forms, is ranked among the top condiments sold in the U.S. as the consumer’s demand has been gradually increasing over the years, particularly for the traditional sauces such as Ketchup and Mayonnaise. This demand has been driven by growing appetite for the Hispanic cuisines which refers to Mexican food, Spanish dishes, Central American and Caribbean countries recipes. Moreover, the rising income is another trigger of this market stipulation.
In the U.S., Salsa term refers to red colored tomato-based sauce made up of vegetable or fruit like onions, garlic and peppers. The per capita supply of these popular ingredients for Americans reached 129 pounds (~58.5 kg) in 2019, which is a substantial amount being used in salsas. It’s worth mentioning that the available processed tomatoes is 65 pounds (29.5 kg) per capita, which is 3 times higher than the available fresh tomatoes.
Average availability per capita of fresh tomatoes salsas has recorded higher growth between 2010-2019 compared to 2000-2009 (figure 1), indicating a shift of consumer behavior towards fresh-based products that are considered as healthier choices than the processed ones.
In 2014, the ERS researchers analyzed the U.S. consumption of vegetables and have concluded that over three-quarters of it is used in sauces and mixed foods like pasta sauce . Spaghetti, pasta and other mixed sauces dominate the tomato consumption in homemade food with 24% of total tomato sources, followed by raw tomato which contains less sodium and calories. As for the away from home, pizza is the largest tomato sauce with 32% of total tomato consumption (figure 2).
The U.S. exports of sauces to the world has been increasing between 2002 and 2021 at a CAGR of 7.6%, reaching a record of USD 1,931 million (figure 3). Main exported sauces are preparations for sauces and prepared sauces, mixed condiments and seasonings (such as mayonnaise, salad sauces, mixed seasonings among others) (76%); tomato ketchup and other tomato sauces (16%); soya sauce (4%); and mustard flour and meal whether or not prepared and mustard (4%) . As for their destinations, the aforementioned are exported to Canada (36.3%), Mexico (16.8%), Chile (3.7%), Japan (3.3%) and Saudi Arabia (3.3%), receiving over 50% of total U.S sauces exports .
China is one of the main competitors in the sauces market for the U.S. along with Italy, Netherlands, Germany and others (figure 4). The sauces, dressings and condiments market is ranked one of the high potential products for growth in the Chinese market during the upcoming years .
Although the U.S. is one of the main exporters of sauces worldwide, the country’s exports have increased gradually over the years, from USD 517 million to USD 1,830 million between 2002 and 2021 indicating a growing demand for this product (figure 5). The main suppliers of sauces for the U.S. in 2021 are Canada (23%), Italy (18%), Mexico (15%), Thailand (7%) and China (7%) (figure 6).
Lebanon’s exports to the U.S. have been fluctuating over the years until 2019 when the exporting has become a pressing need, that is crucial to survive the local financial and economic crises. Lebanese sauces exports have hit record high of USD 1,181 thousand in 2021, 52% higher than the exported amount in 2019 (figure 7). Moreover, during the last years, the country’s awareness to export to the U.S. has increased with the total exports to the states growing at a CAGR of 49% between 2019 and 2021 .
As per the ITC trade map, Lebanon has an untapped potential for tomato ketchup and other tomato sauces exports of around USD 32 thousand, as for the exports of preparations for sauces and prepared sauces, Lebanon has surpassed its potential which is USD 611 thousand .
Share of Imports and Unit Price in 2020
The sauces market includes a wide range of products with different base ingredients. Based on the Vegetables and Pulses outlook (November 2021)
, the producer price index for tomato catsup and sauces has increased 4.1% from the 4th quarter of 2020 to the same quarter in 2021.
Table 1: Processed vegetables: U.S. Producer Price Indices, 2020–21
2020 2021 4th Q Change (%)
1st Q 2nd Q 3rd Q 4th Q 1st Q 2nd Q 3rd Q 4th Q (f) Quarter Year
PPI for Tomato catsup and sauces 161.1 160.5 159.6 161.7 162.4 163.0 164.0 168.3 2.6 4.1
The value of both, sauces exports and imports have increased over the years, at a CAGR of 1.8% and 1.4% respectively between 2012 and 2021. However, the import value in thousand USD per ton remains slightly higher than the export unit value in 2021 of around 6%.
Table 2: Trade Value in Thousand USD per Ton of Sauces (HS 2103) (2012-2021)
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Import Value in USD/Ton 1.881 1.899 1.972 1.927 1.911 1.981 1.988 1.950 1.998 2.136
Export Value in USD/Ton 1.718 1.741 1.714 1.682 1.685 1.728 1.854 1.891 1.928 2.014
Source: ITC Trade Map
Changes in the American Market
In 2020, sauces and seasonings ranked among the three top categories with new products along with beverages and snacks, all contributing to 41.9% of total products newly introduced to the U.S. market. It’s worth mentioning that these 3 products were in the top 5 products during the 2015-2020 stint. This indicator highlights the high level of innovation in the sauces and seasonings market, accounting for 12.2% of total new products in the U.S (figure 8).
Top claims for these categories are kosher (9.3%), low allergen or no/reduced allergen (7%), gluten free (6.5%), no additives/preservatives (5.2%), GMO-free (5%), ethical-environmentally friendly packaging (4.4%), ethical recycling (4.1%), social media (3.8%), organic (3.6%) and free from added/artificial preservatives (2.9%) (figure 9). These categories are the new emerging food trends in the U.S. market, thus touting your products under any of this category will help you reach out to higher number of consumers.
One of the foremost changes in the U.S. market is that children are heading towards healthier choices, with less sweetened and sugary foods. As per the ERS’s loss-adjusted food availability data between 1994 and 2008, american kids are limiting their intake of sweeteners compared to adults . However, during the last years, the U.S. market has been shifting with a growing food awarness on healthier choices, natural food and enviromental impact, which is partially linked to the impact of the pandemic on the population’s attitude and consciousness.
In terms of shopping behaviours, many changes have occurred since the start of the pandemic, mainly reflected in the consumer performance and purchase preferences with the increased health concerns and travel restrictions. However, trends are taking the lead towards digitalization, mainly online shopping and delivery to your doorstep. The COVID-19 crisis has speed up the technological inclusion of the different generations around the world especially that consumers have prioritized their wellbeing while purchasing any product. Based on the latest figures published by Deloitte from their annual holiday survey, the average online spending standing at USD 924 between 2018 and 2021 is double the average of in-store spending at USD 440 during the same period. Whilst the online spending has increased 5% between 2018 and 2021, the physical spending dropped by 3% (figure 10).
In light of these sharp drifts, any product targeting the US market should bring the consumer’s online experience to the fore, especially with the global expansion of the COVID-19 pandemic and its new variants. However, the importance of the e-commerce market will be emphasized in the market entry section (Check Section 2).
Beside the swelling preference for online shopping, consumers are focusing on their personal health and basic hygiene, which is manifested in the accelerated demand of organic, natural and fresh goods. As per Mckinsey’s report on “how COVID-19 is changing consumers behave across all spheres of life”
, e-commerce, health and wellbeing are the main emerging trends in consumer’s behavior after the pandemic outbreak. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you chase the newest trends and needs in terms of package, hygiene, health, organic, fresh and safety, especially when forging new partnerships in foreign countries.