Regular followers of my Facebook page may recall that I once had a rant at HP Sauces (part of H J Heinz group) via their website regarding the claim that:
“HP sauce, the original brown sauce which since 1899 has set the standard for quality. Everyone’s favourite, this legendary and uniquely distinctive sauce is the result of our dedication to sourcing the highest quality ingredients and using a closely guarded secret recipe.”
In fact, the list of ingredients for two versions, a squeezy bottle made in the Netherlands and a glass one made elsewhere, I can’t remember where, were different, and in different quantities too. Furthermore, it was quite evident from the list of ingredients that there were a number that would not have been available in 1899, so the marketing blurb on the bottles, in the press and on their website was misleading.
Needless to say, I received no reply. Evidently Messrs Heinz feel no need to respond to niggly customers splitting hairs about their claims for products. Undaunted, I tried again with a different brown sauce, namely that made by Stokes Sauces.
“Just a quick question. I recently bought a bottle of your brown sauce. Very nice, to be sure, but it does not taste much different to other brown sauces and appears to have pretty similar ingredients. How do you justify your product costing twice as much as a premium brand equivalent?”
And I received a lovely reply from a Ms Samantha Parnell:
“Dear Mr Millward, Thank you for your email. We really appreciate your email and we do take on board any comments that people make about our products. There is a market perception of how Brown sauce should taste and whilst one Brown sauce may vary in flavour to another, in principle they are all based along similar theme. If the sauce was too different then this could lead to disappointment when trying the product. We believe our Brown sauce is different because the sauce is carefully hand made using the best quality ingredients that we could find and is based on our own recipe which gives a distinctive quality and taste that stands out from the rest of the Brown sauces currently available. Whilst this is obviously a matter of opinion we believe it to be true. The ingredients in our brown sauce include cane molasses, rich date puree and our special blend of spices. In comparison to other Brown Sauces available, our product certainly contains a higher percentage of date puree and a lot less salt and the sugar we use is raw cane sugar.
Once again, thank you for your email.
With Kind Regards
Not sure she managed to justify the high cost of the sauce, but full marks for a customer-friendly response. I am rather more likely to buy Stokes’s, even at £2.89 a bottle, than HP.