Prepared Foods talks sauces, spreads and dressings with Mitch Dingwall, product development senior director at Golden State Foods (GSF). Based in Irvine, Calif., the 73-year-old company supplies and services approximately 125,000+ restaurants in more than 40 countries. GSF processes and distributes liquid products (sauces, dressings, condiments, syrups and toppings), dairy and beverage products, proteins, and produce. A 20-year industry veteran, Dingwall has food science and culinary degrees. He worked in restaurants before serving in executive R&D and culinary posts at McCormick & Company, Burger King, Symrise, Campbell Soup Company and Nestlé Professional. He joined GSF in March 2019.   


Prepared Foods: What are one or two trends driving change in sauces, spreads or dressings?

Mitch Dingwall: Macro trends —such as the plant-based and alternate dairy movements—remain consistent. However, a trend that I feel passionate about (and am amazed that it keeps reinventing itself) is “spice and heat.” Spices and peppers have such a rich history (even used as currency at one point!), and we continue to see these flavors used as the backbone of new product line extensions and innovation. I’m always impressed with how chefs and product developers find new applications for these flavors and explore product boundaries.

When it comes to food, I like to say that, “Nothing is new; it’s only forgotten.” People often rediscover and reinvent past flavors. In particular, capsicum (bell peppers) and heat-flavors are appearing everywhere! Currently, GSF customers have many requests for extreme heat, pepper varietals and other complex spice profiles.

Other exotic flavorings I enjoy, such as heirloom and other ancient varieties, also are re-emerging. I think you will see more of these spice/heat flavors in the market. Look out for these spice ingredients in your favorite hot sauces: Rocoto pepper (my number one bet!), gochujang, harissa, togarashi, sambal, piri piri and shishito.


PF: In what ways do you see consumers changing in this regard? 

Dingwall: From experience, we know restaurant consumer-patrons expect hot heat. However, consumers are increasingly interested in sophisticated profiles that include finer nuances of different peppers, the earthiness of their terroir and the fruity notes that are present. 
Plus, we see chefs applying new culinary and processing techniques such as toasting, drying, burning/charring, frying, roasting, pickling/fermenting and sous vide. These steps open new worlds of flavor and culinary innovation for us in the product development process.    
Lastly, this all ties into other interesting macro- trends on global and regional levels. These include shifts to more chef-driven and fresh and healthy foods. These pepper- and spice-flavored foods are popular with consumers and interestingly enough, this shift allows product developers to reduce other ingredients connected to fat, sugar and salt intake.


PF: What global ethnic sauces or spreads will emerge next?

Dingwall: I would bet on the cuisines of Northern Africa and the Middle East. As mentioned earlier, this is because of their use of spices and the fresh and healthy nature of their foods and culinary techniques. I personally find the flavors complex and satisfying. Zoe’s Kitchen is a fast-food company that nails this flavor profile within the quick-serve segment. Plus, there is a new chain I’m watching called “Curry Up Now,” that may be more Indian focused, but has similar flavor profiles and culinary philosophies.


PF: Can you share an example of your company’s new product success in this area?

Dingwall: I personally love Caribbean- inspired flavors, and am proud of our part in developing the very authentic, Zaxby’s Caribbean Jerk Sauce, in collaboration with the Zaxby’s Product Innovation team. The sauce has been nominated by the Association for Dressings & Sauces (ADS) for the 2020 Sauce of the Year competition! An announcement of the winner will take place during the ADS 2020 Annual Meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz., this October.  
When it comes to packaging, GSF partners with the packaging experts at Sealed Air. Together, we are working on a state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly condiment dispensing system. This system is meant for “back-of-house” convenience when applying sauces and condiments to customer orders. This solution-oriented product will result in higher consistency, increased product yield and less waste. We recently featured this in one of our customer Quick Bites newsletters.