Prepared Foods talks dips, sauces and condiment trends with David Bezenyei, sales manager, Columbus Vegetable Oils. Based in Des Plaines, Ill., Columbus Vegetable Oils produces a wide range of sauces, dressings, condiments and oils for private label and contract manufacturing customers. Likewise, it supplies a Butcher Boy sauce line to foodservice operators.

Prepared Foods: What tastes and topics are trending up in sauces and condiments?

David Bezenyei: Condiments in general have been a huge trend during the past 12 months. Not only has then been a rise in takeout orders, but younger generations of consumers also are expanding their palates beyond your typical ketchup, ranch and BBQ. 

That’s not to say that those staple flavors are going anywhere, in fact our top selling condiments are, and will remain to be, ranch and BBQ. 

A way for operators to offer a more unique customer experience is to provide different flavors that mix well together as inspiration. For example, ranch and buffalo sauce go great together for a fried chicken sandwich. So, adding ranch and buffalo sauce dressing cups in take-out orders can help foodies get creative at home. 

We also see consumers dressing up their classic combos with new and different condiments. Instead of ketchup with fries, some are trying fries with mayo mixed with hot sauce; or of course, the regionalized pizza with ranch also is popular. Having condiments available keeps customer engaged with their meal. Ready to mix condiments can make any take-home meal more of “an experience” rather than something that already is created for them. The more that operators can provide options and customization—the better.

I’ll note that Columbus Vegetable Oils offers private labeling along with our Butcher Boy dressing cup line. We want to give operators the opportunity to provide consumers with a custom-made condiment. We’ve seen our restaurant operators use our dressings as a base with a formula of specific ingredient to create a custom flavor. We also can take a recipe and create dressing cups in bulk, labeled with their logo. This can make it a craveable, signature sauce that can drive customers back to them. 

PF: We see that your product line includes safflower, sunflower, avocado, and flaxseed oils. Do you see finished food / dressing processors using more of these in new product development and if so, in what types of applications? 

Bezenyei: Of all of these oils, we see our customers using avocado oil more often. One big application is avocado mayo. With avocado considered a superfood, it is no surprise to see our customers incorporating it into different types of applications. Trending condiments such as aioli, pesto and mayo serve as the base for avocado oil usage. 

Not only are we seeing avocado oil trending toward a younger demographic, but there also is demand from those more health-conscious consumers. Our operator customers are wanting to offer more healthy options to these patrons.

PF: Anything more you can say about what’s driving this consumer shift?

Bezenyei: The consumer is definitely more aware of healthful oils. With the pandemic, people’s diets have shifted and it’s almost as though they’re taking a microscope to scrutinize the ingredients they’re consuming. 

Our customer operators realize that they need to address this ingredient transparency and offer more “clean label” choices. We offer specialty oils such as safflower, sunflower, avocado and walnut, as well as non-GMO and organic offerings. It’s important to fill the specialty oils niche market because they have become so popular. 

As we navigate our way through the pandemic, people will continue to take advantage of off-premise dining. With that said, consumers want to have an in-home experience with restaurant-level flavor that these healthful oils can help to create.