Now this is serious.
The takeover of the firm which makes HP sauce by US food giant Heinz has been referred to UK competition authorities.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said the £470m ($855m) acquisition by Heinz of HP Foods could mean higher prices for brown sauce and tomato ketchup.
UK-based HP Foods, which also makes sauces under the Lea & Perrins, Daddies and Amoy names, was sold by French group Danone in June.
The takeover would make Heinz the leading seller of sauces in the UK.
Even before this there was trouble in brown sauce land. HP owns the two leading brands, HP and Daddies, and appears to be phasing out Daddies. In Tesco and Morrisons it's no longer obtainable in tbe highly sought-after 1 kilo plastic bottle - instead small 340g glass bottles line the shelves. Conversely, HP, once only available in the classic glass bottle, beloved of the late Harold Wilson and which gave a generation their first instruction in French, now comes in an assortment of plastic sizes.
With a monopoly of brown and tomato sauce brands, Heinz will seek to maximise profits by raising prices and rationalising the brands. About the tomato I care not a whit (Lidl's 39p a bottle stuff actually seems to be made of tomatoes and is not bad at all), but cheap brown sauce (as served in caffs from a greasy plastic bottle) is an abomination is the eyes of both God and Man.
Where to go ? Though I love most things Yorkshire, I never got on with Hammond's Chop Sauce - too sweet and fruity = pretty disgusting in fact. Way back in the early 80s you could still get Goodall and Backhouse's Yorkshire Relish, but I can't find it on the Web. The factory is probably now an art gallery. On which notional gallery I spit.
If anyone knows of any regional brown sauces please drop a mail. Perhaps in Wigan, somwhere between the Vimto factory and Uncle Joes Mint-Ball plant, lies a secret Lancastrian sauce known only to the pie-eaters of that region. I can but hope.
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