Sales of vinegar in the US grew a staggering 11.5% to $545 million in the US in the 52 weeks ending July 16, according to Nielsen data. This was driven in part by the breakout success of balsamic vinegar, which increased its market share from 5.6% last year to 14% this year and is now worth more than $76 million, the data reveals.
A closer look at balsamic sales show organic and specifically balsamic glazes are in high demand, with organic sales increasing 22.7% compared to a 3.9% increase in conventional sales. Balsamic glaze is up 17.6% with its organic subpart up a substantial 93.1%, according to Nielsen.
The increased demand for vinegar, and specifically organic and balsamic vinegars, doesn’t surprise Sara Delach, brand manager at Mizkan America, which offers several products in the category.
She explained to FoodNavigator-USA that vinegar hits on many key trends influencing the food and beverage industry.
Specifically, she said, vinegar is “appealing to consumers seeking products with clean labels and derived from simple, fresh and unprocessed ingredients.”
Additionally, she noted, vinegar’s use as a functional ingredient supports the consumer desire to improve health from within by “improving blood sugar levels, limiting plaque buildup in the arteries by preventing oxidation of LDL and offering a rich source of polyphenols, which aid in healthy digestion.”
She also noted that vinegar is “a great substitute for unhealthy fats, like those in commercial salad dressings and sandwich spreads,” and, therefore, can help with weight loss and management.
Beyond the health benefits vinegar offers, it also taps into current consumer desire for bold flavors and variety in that it can be used “in countless ways,” including in savory and sweet dishes alike.
A new range to meet consumer demand
To help meet consumer demand for vinegar – and especially organic vinegar – Mizkan America, Inc., is expanding its Barengo line of Italian cooking vinegars to include the launch of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, which includes two organic options.
The lineup includes a “vibrant, brisk and balanced” Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Classica, a “sweet and acidic” Organic Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Vespa, a “syrupy and luxurious” Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Cubana, and a “rich” and “fruity” Organic Balsamic Glaze with Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, according to the marketing materials.
Educating consumers about vinegars’ options
Recognizing that a major challenge for vinegar in the US is a “lack of usage ideas,” Delach explained Mizkan America uses a “four-leaf system” and grading criteria that classifies the different qualities of each vinegar and helps consumers identify the best ways to use them.
“The leaves are categorized by the quality of the grape and the ratio of grape must to wine vinegar. The higher the ratio of grape must, the sweeter the balsamic profile. For example, those categorized under the one-leaf count have the highest level of wine vinegar to grape must, providing a lighter flavor profile, while those classified under the four-leaf category have the highest grade quality, as well as the highest percentage of grape must, producing a sweeter taste and a more syrupy profile,” she explained.
She added: “Barengo recommends using two-leaf balsamic vinegars for marinades and vegetables due to its well-balanced flavor and pungent aroma, while mature three-leaf balsamic vinegars offer full-bodied taste that make them great for dipping breads and finishing meats and sauces. Four-leaf balsamic vinegars offer a superbly sweet taste and a syrupy consistency – ideal for drizzling on any dish, especially fruits, cheeses and ice cream.”
The company also works to build awareness by “curating expert-crafted recipes made with consumer-friendly ingredients so that buyers know how to incorporate vinegar into their cooking,” Delach said.
It also offers a variety of “innovative vinegar-based products to suit every culinary need,” including citrus-seasoned rice vinegar, malt vinegar and more, she said.
To further encourage US consumers to explore the different uses of vinegar, Mizkan America offers its products at accessible price points, starting at $5.70 for the Classica and glaze and going up to $16.99 for the Cubana.