The chips are down for traditional vinegar as more Brits move to balsamic

It’s been a British kitchen and restaurant table staple for more than 100 years but now Brits are falling out of love with traditional malt vinegar.

It’s been a British kitchen and restaurant table staple for more than 100 years but now Brits are falling out of love with traditional malt vinegar.

Until recently most homes would keep a bottle of malt vinegar handy as the classic condiment for fish and chips or, especially with the older generation, as a pickling agent for eggs, onions and other vegetables.

But now with both fish and chip shops* and pickling in decline demand for vinegar has fallen by four per cent in the last year across all retailers (Kantar Worldpanel data Jan 2013).

However on closer inspection it appears that many of us are broadening our tastes and are now more interested in malt vinegar’s richer and more versatile Italian cousin, balsamic vinegar.

At Tesco sales of balsamic vinegar are bucking the trend and have soared by a hefty 40 per cent in the last year. As a result the supermarket has doubled its range to eight products in the last year.

Tesco vinegar buyer Mark Shadbolt said: “Traditional malt vinegar has been one of the big four condiments – along with salt, pepper and mustard – that have been staples of British kitchen cupboards since the Victorian era.

“But as far as the dinner table goes it really has a very limited use – as a condiment for chips or as vinaigrette dressing for salads. Other than that its chief culinary use has been to pickle onions, eggs and other vegetables but the great pickling heyday is long gone.

“Our tastes are now changing and shoppers are finding that you can get more bang for your buck with balsamic as it can be used to enhance the flavour of salad dressings, dips, steaks, eggs, desserts, ice cream and yes, also fish and chips.”

According to food experts the main reasons for the change are:

  • The decline of the fish and chip shop
  • The versatility of balsamic which is sweeter and can be used in more dishes
  • A growing love of Italian food which uses balsamic in a number of dishes
  • The popularity in Italian restaurants of serving bread and balsamic based dips as a starter which is now becoming trendier in the home
  • Balsamic being heavily featured in celebrity chef books and TV cooking programmes. Jamie Oliver even has his own range.

Tesco’s Mark Shadbolt added: “The rise in chain Italian restaurants, especially those offering vouchers for cheap dinners, is another major reason for the balsamic boom as they have oil and balsamic on their tables with bread as a starter.”

Two years ago Heinz brought out a variety of its famous ketchup made with balsamic vinegar.


Note to editors:

*According to a survey by Baines and Ernst published last year the number of fish and chip shops in the UK has fallen from 35,000 in the 1930s to just 11,000 today.

For more information please contact the Tesco Press Office on
01992 644645

Tesco is the UK's largest retailer and one of the world's leading international retailers. Tesco has more than 6,000 stores worldwide, employing almost 520,000 people in the 14 countries in which it operates.
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