Low-Sugar Ketchup Makes Profitable Splash

YERUSHALAYIM -

Less sugar and salt is good for you, and it’s good for the food business too, according to a new survey reported by Globes on Monday.

In response to a Health Ministry initiative which will soon require manufacturers to label products containing large quantities of sugar and salt, Osem and Heinz came out with low-sugar ketchup.

According to figures from Storenext, in the first week of July, two months after the product launch, the market share of Osem’s low-sugar ketchup reached 10.7 percent, while the Heinz counterpart reached 3 percent, six months after launch.

Although the new items derived took away some of the sales from regular ketchup, the overall impact was positive, boosting total ketchup sales, which had been in decline for a year.

The Heinz version contains 50 percent less sugar and 25 percent less sodium than Heinz’s regular ketchup, and uses the sweetener stevia. The wholesale price was 15 percent above the company’s regular ketchup, which made the retail price correspondingly higher.

Osem Nestle followed a few months later with its healthier ketchup, which is free of artificial sweetener.

Despite claims that it would be sold at the same price as its regular ketchup, Globes quoted Pricez, which pegged the average price of Osem’s regular ketchup at NIS 10.80 for a 750 gram bottle, whereas the 710-gram bottle of the low-sugar version was selling for NIS 12.50.

The ketchup industry — estimated at an annual net worth of 220 million shekels — took another hit last week when the Knesset Health Committee decided to ban the serving of ketchup in after-school care programs. It was put on the list of banned foods, along with sweetened beverages, chocolate spreads and soups made from soup powders. The companies are expected to apply for an exception for their low-sugar products.