Australia Day and the tomato sauce tradition

Around this time every year, we reflect on our Aussie cuisine and how it’s played a role in the development of our nation. An Australia Day barbecue is the ideal time to put one of the most iconic Australian condiments front and centre with everyone’s favourite – tomato sauce.

The name tomato sauce means different products to different nations. In Italian dishes, tomato sauce refers to the tomato-based sauce used as a base for pasta and other iconic dishes. In Mexican cuisine, tomato sauce is the salsa used as an accompaniment to many favourites like tacos or simply served as a dip with corn chips.

In Australia, tomato sauce is a table sauce that is used by many to enhance the flavour of foods like meat pies and sausage rolls, sausages and sausage sandwiches, hot chips, and more. Lots of Aussie children insist on including tomato sauce in many meals.

The Spanish and Italian varieties of tomato sauce have been around for centuries. The use of tomato sauce with pasta appeared for the first time in 1790 in the Italian cookbook L’Apicio Moderno, by Roman chef Francesco Leonardi.

The Australian version has a shorter history and was first manufactured commercially from around 1900 for use in kitchens throughout Australia, where it proved to be very popular. Before that, it was made by home cooks around the nation. At Steric, we’ve been manufacturing our popular Sunshine Tomato Sauce for over 30 years . Some people believe that the names ‘tomato sauce’ and ‘tomato ketchup’ are interchangeable but at Steric our Sunshine tomato sauce has a more sour taste and is watery, while our new Plate & Platter Tomato Ketchup is thicker and sweeter. Two different products to suit different cuisines and taste preferences.

Flavour preferences in Australia

Different nations around the world have their taste preferences, and because Australians on the whole, at least in the past, were descended from English and European countries, we tend towards a sour taste. That’s why when you visit an English pub there is always vinegar on the table to complement potato chips.

It’s also why when Aussie fish and chip shops run primarily by Greek and Italian immigrants added hamburgers to their menus in the 1950s and 60s, they added barbecue sauce rather than tomato because it is sweeter. Some Australians still prefer to add tomato sauce but barbecue sauce tends to be the default choice.

Australian cuisine now has many multi-cultural influences but traditional tomato sauce is still a staple of Australian home kitchens and foodservice kitchens.

“At Steric, we’ve been manufacturing our popular Sunshine Tomato Sauce for over 40 years.”

Sauce thickness

Sauces vary in thickness, depending on their purpose and flavour profile.

Australian tomato sauce is a watery sauce compared to many other tomato-based sauces.

In general, if a sauce is watery the flavour will come on faster and it will also dissipate faster. Because Australian tomato sauce is less thick than other tomato sauces like American ketchup the flavour comes on quickly, which complements the types of foods it is used to enhance.

A long history of sauce manufacturing

At Steric, we’ve been making our locally manufactured tomato sauce since the 1980s for the foodservice industry and private label for leading supermarkets. Over that time we’ve kept our recipe consistent and made variations for our clients as required. Our product development team of four people produces our range of Australian manufactured products for the foodservice industry and private label for commercial businesses.

Australian made Tomato Sauce

Steric produces a range of Sunshine brand sauces for the foodservice industry including Tomato, BBQ, Soy, Worcestershire, Hickory Smoked BBQ, and Sweet Chilli.

The Sunshine Tomato Sauce is available in a four-litre pack. It can be ordered via Steric’s distributors. Contact Steric at or 1800 008 155.