Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gourmet Ketchup ought to taste great

We've done a lot of market research about ketchup, especially those brands who assert they are "gourmet".

According to Ask.com, "Gourmet food is of the highest quality and flavor, prepared well and presented in an artful manner."

Clearly, when anyone in our culture first considers "what is ketchup?" they think of the typical Heinz, Hunts, or even store brands of the red, tomato like stuff that dominates the grocery shelves.  Considering the market share, Heinz clearly is the big manufacturer, so it makes sense to compare all other "ketchup" (or "catsup") to them...but Heinz and their clones are hardly "Gourmet" and certainly not "artisanal".

Then there are the "Organic" versions, essentially the same recipes as Heinz et al but with organically grown ingredients...otherwise, the same taste, texture, and how they can determine that High Fructose Corn Syrup or even Agave Nectar is "organic" ought to puzzle most scientists...but we digress.  Even those with sugar instead of HFCS aren't really gourmet, now are they?

When we do our research we try as many ketchups as possible that advertise or label themselves as "gourmet"...and there really aren't that many.  Some labeled as "gourmet" are not really much more than "flavored" ketchup...essentially regular ketchup recipes with a few flavors added; for example, a well-marketed "Habanero" ketchup is nothing but regular ketchup with a smattering of ground up peppers added for flavor.  Hardly the "highest quality".

So what about the rest of the gourmet ketchups we've found.

Let me summarize this way....a clerk at a well-known international grocery chain (headquartered in Austin) told me they had tried two versions of a well-marketed "Gourmet" ketchup.  Her comment essentially, to be polite, was that it tasted bad.  "It was pasty, not tasty."

We've tried many, including one while we were passing through Louisiana recently.  It's a "spicy" gourmet ketchup.  I almost gagged as did my wife.

The reasons that so many of these ketchups seem to be less than tasty is apparent when you look at the labels....both the ingredients and the nutritional label.

When you see "tomato concentrate", "tomato paste", or worst of all "tomato puree" as the primary ingredient, expect the flavor to be less desirable.  If you see HFCS, you might want to question how this could be of the "highest quality" (at least from a nutritional standpoint.  When you see "ketchup" as a primary ingredient you know you are looking at a product that was not "well prepared".

The bottom line is that there are few "well prepared", "highest quality and taste" ketchups and even fewer that have all natural ingredients.  So if you want a gourmet ketchup that tastes good, try our ketchups.  And, our label designer did a great job of presenting Drippin' Sauce Ketchup "in an artful manner", didn't he?

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