The Benefits of using sauce in your foodservice kitchen

All chefs learn about the importance of sauces in a foodservice kitchen during their training. They also learn how to make different sauces, and what sauces go best with which foods. But it’s always worth refreshing the memory of the benefits of using sauce to enhance food.

Sauces have many benefits including adding flavour, adding moisture, improving the appearance of food, adding taste contrast, as well as adding sharpness or tanginess.

In each dish, most sauces have more than one function. For example, in a hamburger, the sauce adds flavour, but it also contributes to the appearance of the food and increases moisture.

In a foodservice kitchen, sauces generally serve one or more of the following functions:

Sauces add flavour

Sauces can add a complementary flavour that will help bring out the essence of that food. They can also be used to heighten the flavour or highlight an aspect of the flavour of the food. Sometimes sauce will also add to the flavour of food.

For example, Steric’s popular Sunshine Tomato Sauce is used by many to enhance the flavour of foods like meat pies and sausage rolls, sausages and sausage sandwiches, hot chips, and more.

Sauces can also provide a major change to the flavour and taste of dishes.

Increase moisture with sauce

Sauces can add moisture or compensate for a drying cooking technique. Some foods that are naturally lean like some cuts of poultry and some fish, benefit from the added moisture sauce can provide.

Some cooking techniques like grilling and sautéing can have a drying effect to food and sauce can provide the missing moisture. Steric’s Plate & Platter Tomato Ketchup was developed to match American-style hamburgers, and while it adds flavour, it also increases the moisture of the burger.

Improve the appearance of food with sauce

Sauces enhance a dish’s appearance by adding lustre and sheen. A coating that is poured or brushed over the food can improve the appearance of an otherwise uninteresting item.

The rich brown sauce that is commonly used in French cooking called demi-glace, serves this exact purpose.

Steric’s Sunshine Sweet Chilli Sauce adds lustre and colour to appetisers in Thai cuisine like spring rolls and curry puffs.

Add contrast with sauce

Sometimes sauces are used to add a contrast in taste to another food instead of complementing it. An example of this is using apple sauce with roast pork.

Sauces can also provide a contrast in colour and texture to add to the visual appeal of the food.

Add sharpness and tanginess with sauce

Some sauces are used to add sharpness or tanginess to otherwise bland foods. For example, a remoulade sauce served with fresh prawns provides sharpness and tanginess. It has a mayonnaise base that is enhanced with Cajun seasoning, whole grain mustard, hot sauce and grated fresh horseradish.

Australian-made sauces from Steric

Steric’s range of Sunshine sauces is manufactured, bottled, packaged, and shipped from Steric’s advanced food manufacturing facility in Western Sydney.

The Sunshine sauce range includes Sweet Chilli Sauce, Hot Chilli Sauce, Hickory Smoked BBQ Sauce, BBQ Sauce, Tomato Sauce, Soy Sauce and Worcestershire Sauce, available in either three or four-litre bottles.

Sunshine and Plate & Platter sauces can be ordered via Steric’s distributors. Contact Steric at or 1800 008 155.

Why is vegetable oil so popular in foodservice kitchens?

Cooking oil is a staple in every Australian foodservice kitchen. Most commercial kitchens will use a variety of oils depending on the type of food being prepared. Vegetable oil is popular because it is inexpensive, has no distinctive flavour so it won’t alter the dish, and can be used for a variety of foods.

In Australia, our most commonly used oilseed crops to produce vegetable oil are canola, cottonseed and sunflower. The Australian Oilseed industry produces around three million tonnes annually, and Australia uses over 600,000 tonnes of oils fats each year with the vast majority utilised in edible applications.

Another advantage of vegetable oil is the health benefits. Vegetable oils like canola and sunflower are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (which include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids). They are often referred to as oils that are healthy for the heart because they can reduce levels of harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood, particularly when substituted for less healthy fats such as saturated fat.

Vegetable oil is commonly used in foodservice kitchens as well as at home for shallow frying as well as salad dressings and sauces. Other dishes include curries, stir fry, dips, marinades and gravies because of its neutral flavour, and low smoking point.

What is vegetable oil made from?

Vegetable oil is plant-based and often made from canola, corn, soybean or sunflower oils and in some cases may be flavoured with dried or fresh herbs.

Vegetable oil is derived from pressing oil from the seeds of the plant. This production process involves either a mechanical crushing process or a chemical extraction procedure. The mechanical method involves crushing and removing of the unwanted components, which is typically achieved through mechanical pressing. Vegetable oil extraction can also be completed by chemical extraction using a solvent. Solvent extraction is also used to remove the remaining oil content in the compressed plant material so very little goes to waste.

Once the oil has been extracted, a purification process removes any impurities that may still be present after the extraction process. Impurities can affect the taste, quality and clarity of the final product so this step is particularly important.

History of vegetable oil

Vegetable oils have been processed in different regions around the world for thousands of years. Initially people utilised whatever food stuffs they had on hand to obtain oils for a variety of cooking purposes. Early people learned to use the sun, a fire, or an oven to heat oily plant products until the plants exuded oil that could then be collected.

It is believed that people in China and Japan produced soy oil as early as 2000 BC, while southern Europeans began producing olive oil by 3000 BC. In Mexico and North America, peanuts and sunflower seeds were roasted and beaten into a paste before being boiled in water; the oil that rose to the surface was then skimmed off.

Similarly, Africans grated and beat palm kernels and coconut meat and then boiled the resulting pulp, skimming the hot oil off the water. Some oils have been discovered more recently as the technology to extract oil improved.

Not all vegetable oils are the same

At Steric we produce a premium vegetable oil that is widely used in foodservice kitchens. We recognise that its essential for everything from baking to frying to creating salad dressings and sauces and know that a high-quality product is a necessity.

Our long history in large-scale commercial food production helps us ensure that every bottle of oil we create and ship to foodservice kitchens across Australia is of a consistent high quality.

Australian-made Vegetable Oil

Sunshine Vegetable Oil is manufactured, bottled, packaged, and shipped from Steric’s advanced food manufacturing facility in Western Sydney.

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

Why we reformulated our hot chilli sauce?

At Steric, we’ve reformulated our Sunshine Hot Chilli sauce after listening to feedback from the foodservice market. Our customers, particularly those who own and operate kebab shops in Australia told us our Hot Chilli sauce needed some tweaks including halal certification to be included on their order list.

As well as the halal certification, we also realise that Australian tastes are shifting with many people developing a more adventurous palate as we are exposed to more international cuisine, particularly Asian food.

So, we got our product development team on the case to reformulate our existing chilli sauce product. We’ve tweaked the flavour and made it thicker to suit a range of cuisines served in Australian foodservice outlets.

We thought you’d also enjoy learning about the difference between hot sauce v chilli sauce, the history of chilli sauce, and how it’s enjoyed around the world.

The difference between hot sauce and hot chilli sauce

Hot sauce is a generic term for any sauce that is hot, whereas chilli sauce is a ‘hot’ sauce made from chillies specifically. However, many products that are called hot sauces are actually chilli sauces as well. Hot sauce is also a term more commonly used outside Australia, although it is gaining some traction.

In Australia, we tend to describe hot sauces as those that are very liquid and come in a shaker-style small bottle, whereas chilli sauce is thicker and comes in a bottle to be poured or squeezed like our Sunshine Hot Chilli Sauce.

History of chilli sauce

The original chilli plants are native to Central America so it’s not surprising that this is where chilli sauce was originally developed by the Aztecs. It is believed that chilli was one of the earliest plants to be cultivated by humans. Archaeologists have found evidence of its use by the Aztecs as far back as 7000 BC.

Experts concur that the very first chilli sauce was simply ground-up chilies mixed with water and herbs. Evidence has been found to suggest that the Aztecs used it to enhance the flavour of their food, for medicinal purposes, to pay taxes, to give tributes, and even as a weapon or punishment!

In the 16th century, the Spanish and Portuguese carried chillies to Europe which ultimately spread to Africa and Asia where different cultivars were bred.

Chilli sauce around the world

Food cultures across the globe have come up with countless ways to dry, crush, cook, smoke and pickle chillies into condiments, developing a myriad of hot sauces and pastes that enhance dishes of every kind.

A few popular highlights include:

Peri peri from Portugal

Originally produced by Portuguese explorers in Portugal’s former Southern African territories, it then spread to other Portuguese domains. It’s made from African Bird’s Eye Chillies and has been made famous by Portuguese chicken fast-food company Nando’s. Peri peri sauce varies in heat intensity and has a spicy, garlicky, tangy, and lemony flavour.

Cajun pepper sauce

These Louisiana-style hot sauces usually consist of a thin mixture of chillies, vinegar, and salt, often fermented. The most famous brand, Tabasco is made from red peppers (chillies), salt and vinegar.


Sriracha is a classic combination of chillies, sugar, salt, garlic and vinegar. It originated in Thailand but is now enjoyed in many countries throughout Asia and beyond. It is often used in Vietnamese cooking to spice up the popular noodle soup called Pho.


Popular in north Africa, Harissa is an aromatic and thick chilli paste used as a flavour enhancer throughout the region. It is a blend of Serrano chillies, garlic, cumin, coriander and olive oil and is used as a stock base, for basting, spread over fish or meat before grilling or tossed through roasted potatoes.

Australian-made Hot Chilli Sauce

Steric’s reformulated Hot Chilli Sauce is gluten-free, Halal-certified, contains no artificial colours or preservatives and is made in Australia by a family-owned company.

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

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

Why it is important to keep food manufacturing in Australia

Australia’s food industry is integral to our economy and the prosperity of our people. The sector accounts for around 20 per cent of domestic manufacturing sales and service income and enjoys a reputation both domestically and internationally as a modern, safe, reliable and sustainable producer of food.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of food and grocery manufacturing to all Australians. In such uncertain times, the food and grocery manufacturing sector ran factories around the clock to ensure that supermarket shelves were stocked.

Food and beverage processing is Australia’s largest manufacturing industry. Industry players are diverse in size – from multinationals producing large volume fast-moving consumer goods through to medium-sized manufacturers like Steric, right down to smaller players producing niche gourmet items.

Highly adaptable

The Australian food processing industry is highly adaptable and works to meet consumer demand for diversity, quality and value. This is partly driven by Australia’s ethnic and cultural diversity which is reflected in the food range available. Products with influences from all over the world are made for the domestic and export markets.

To meet the demand, the industry has embraced innovative manufacturing, packaging, product development and marketing efforts. The industry also acknowledges the need for quality and safety with strict safety standards regulated and enforced throughout the supply chain.

Australia has a reputation for supplying clean and natural products with low chemical residues.

Australia’s food processing sector is a particularly important part of Australia’s overall food production. It has been growing at a very healthy rate over the last decade.

As well as the demand for ethnically diverse products, the food processing industry has responded to consumer demands and trends, towards convenient, healthier, fresher, less processed foods, with minimal storage time. Companies like Steric have in-house product development teams that are constantly innovating and bringing new products to the market.

Food and grocery industry growth

According to a report from the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC), Australia’s food and grocery manufacturing sector has seen a growth in value in 2020 and 2021— to approximately $133.6 billion— despite disruptions caused by the global pandemic.

However, the report noted that ongoing pressures on workforces, supply chains, and production costs still pose a challenge to securing the sector’s future as a key growth industry. 

According to the State of the Industry 2022 report, stocking up and panic buying contributed to the spike in domestic spending, with an increase of nine per cent to $99.4 billion, which offset a 17.1 per cent decrease in exports.

Government support

In a recent press briefing, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese highlighted the need for more investments in domestic manufacturing to future-proof the country against potential global supply chain crises. The Prime Minister said that more funding needs to be allocated to foster onshore production and manufacturing in Australia, calling the move a matter of economic protectionism

“One of the lessons of the pandemic is that we need to be more resilient, that we need to be more self-reliant, and we need to make more things here,” Albanese said.

In October 2020, the Australian Government announced a $1.5 billion investment in its Modern Manufacturing Strategy (MMS) aimed at helping Australian manufacturers be more competitive, resilient and build scale in the global market. In the MMS the Government nominated six priority industry sectors with food and beverage amongst them.

The Australian Government says it will be a strategic investor in the MMS to drive productivity and create jobs for Australians, both now and for generations to come.

Employment in the food industry

The food and grocery industry is a significant employer of Australians. In 2019 food and grocery manufacturing employed 276,000 people with 39 per cent of these jobs in regional Australia.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there were over 9,000 food and beverage manufacturing businesses operating in Australia in June 2019, with over 8,000 of them either non-employing or small.

Unsurprisingly, despite a large number of SMEs in the sector, the majority of the revenue is generated by a small number of large companies, while SMEs account for a small proportion of the sector’s turnover and employment.

And while Australia is a large producer of food and grocery products, a substantial amount of products are imported each year, and the imports are growing despite the concerns about food security. Imports across the sector were $35.9 billion in 2019, only just below the level of exports.

Steric – investing in Australian manufacturing

As an Australian manufacturer, Steric is supportive of the local industry and continues to invest in and grow its business. Steric has a fifty-year history in Western Sydney and remains agile and can respond quickly to market needs.

To learn more about Steric visit or call 1800 008 155.

Meet Steric’s product development team

Steric’s Product Development Manager, Clara Ong is part of a four-person product development team that has many years of experience creating and modifying products. The team not only develops Steric’s own products under the Sunshine, Plate & Platter and Staminade brands but also creates private label products for supermarket and commercial customers.

Clara joined the Steric team more than three years ago and before that worked for many years in research and development in other companies. Her colleagues are similarly experienced and credentialled and play a key role in bringing new products to the market, and ensuring existing products maintain Steric’s high standard.

New product development

“An open brief for a new product can begin from a customer’s idea, a global trend or our Sales and Marketing teams,” said Clara.

“From the initial brief, we would undertake research to see what new flavours are already in the market and proven popular. Our team will also brainstorm to develop new ideas and trends locally and overseas and take the concepts to the bench,” she added.

Part of the role of the product development team is to taste products from a professional perspective. “We taste all day, every day, so we get very good at it.

We know what it’s meant to taste like and evaluate products by putting our shoes in the consumers point of view,” said Clara.

Once the team develops a prototype of a new product, it is tested, refined before being approved by the customer or our business and then put into production.

“For some of our foodservice products, we will ask commercial chefs to taste it too, to determine if it’s something they would use in their kitchen. This is particularly helpful with products like tartare sauce where there can be many flavour variations,” she added.

Regulatory requirements

The team also has a strong focus on paperwork and keeping records.

“The regulatory side of our work is also important because consumers want information about where the product is from, the list of ingredients, and more.

“For home cooking, there has been a trend towards more natural products. Consumers want to know what they are feeding their families. Keeping records of all the details is essential,” said Clara.

Working alongside the production and quality teams

“Having an onsite product development team means that we are able to react whenever production requires our input”, said Clara.

Steric also has a Quality Assurance team of four people, that is supported by Clara’s team. Every morning the Product Development team members taste the products that were made the day before to identify if there are any quality issues. Every product is sensory panelled before they are approved for release.

Steric – investing in Australian manufacturing

As a medium-sized business, Steric remains agile and can respond quickly to market needs. Having a product development team in-house ensures that the company moves swiftly and continues to invest and grow in Australian manufacturing.

To learn more about Steric visit or call 1800 008 155.

Why hot chocolate is the ideal winter drink

Hot chocolate is consumed around the world in diverse ways but no matter how you enjoy it, it’s a great winter warmer. In Australia, it’s popular in cafés around the country as an alternative to drinking coffee or tea, and great for younger people who want to limit caffeine but still experience a café style drink.

It is also associated with open fires in winter, complete with marshmallows. But not all hot chocolate drinks in Australia are the same, ranging from molten chocolate mixed with warm milk in upmarket cafés to the powdered form bought in supermarkets, and everything in between.

The origins of hot chocolate

Hot chocolate has a long history dating back about 3,000 years. The first chocolate drink is believed to have been created by the Maya in the area we now call Central America around 2,500 to 3,000 years ago. A cocoa drink was an essential part of Aztec culture by 1400 AD. They used chocolate to show high status, and it was a bad omen for someone low or common to drink chocolate.

Hot chocolate first came to Europe, when Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés was credited with bringing cocoa beans and chocolate drink-making equipment back to Spain in 1528 after he defeated the Aztecs.

At that time, chocolate still only existed as the bitter drink invented by the Mayas. After its introduction to Europe, the drink slowly gained popularity among the upper echelons of society. The Royal Court of Emperor Charles V soon adopted the drink and became a fashionable drink popular with the Spanish upper class.

Sweet-tasting hot chocolate was then invented, leading hot chocolate to become a luxury item among the European nobility by the 17th century, and it was often mixed with spices for flavour.

A breakthrough came in 1828 when a Dutchman developed the first cocoa powder producing machine making it easier to stir into milk and water. While in current times we see hot chocolate as a café drink, until the 19th century, hot chocolate was used medicinally to treat ailments such as liver and stomach diseases.

Hot chocolate around the world

Hot chocolate is consumed in many parts of the world in multiple variations. This includes the spiced chocolate para mesa of Latin America, the very thick Cioccolata Calda served in Italy and Chocolate a la Taza served in Spain, and the thinner hot cocoa consumed in the United States and the UK.

The Spanish are also responsible for Chocolate Caliente, where a churro is dipped into rich and thick hot chocolate.

In Hungary there is the Forró Csokoládé that is spiced with paprika, white pepper and cloves. While in Colombia, the local variation known as Chocolate Santafereño includes a chunk of cheese!

In Belgium, hot chocolate is called Warme Chocolademelk and of course made from the world-famous Belgian chocolate. Hot chocolate is also popular in the Philippines where it is called Tsokolate and made with a block of chocolate and then frothed.

And as you would expect, India has a Chai Hot Chocolate that includes a hint of spices.

In the original home of hot chocolate – Mexico, hot chocolate remains a popular drink, often including semi-sweet chocolate, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla. It is commonly sold in circular or hexagonal tablets which are dissolved into hot milk, water, or cream, and then blended until the mixture develops a creamy froth. In the United States and Canada, hot chocolate is a popular drink in instant form, made with hot water or milk from a powder made from cocoa powder, sugar, and dry milk. It is sweet and often topped with marshmallows, whipped cream, or a piece of solid chocolate.

Hot chocolate in Australia

It is likely that hot chocolate was consumed in Australia by wealthy white settlers from the early days of the colony. In the 17th and 18th centuries, hot chocolate was a luxury item for London’s wealthy, consumed in chocolate houses where they gathered to socialise. Prepared with spices and exotic flavours, it was rich and sweet thanks to the addition of sugar. It was only consumed by the rich because it was an expensive commodity, and chocolate houses often charged an entry fee as well as for the product.

In current day Australia hot chocolate is a popular café drink and is also consumed at home. According to research by Roy Morgan younger Australians are more likely to drink hot chocolate than coffee or tea in an average week than their older counterparts. Nearly a fifth of Generation Z (19.5 per cent) drink hot chocolate in an average week compared to only 7.3 per cent of older Australians.

Australian made premium drinking chocolate

Steric’s Sunshine Drinking Chocolate is used to make delicious hot chocolate, refreshing iced chocolate, chocolate milkshakes, or sprinkled on a hot, barista-made cappuccino.

Sunshine Drinking Chocolate is available in a one kilogram container for the foodservice industry. It can be ordered via Steric’s distributors. Contact Steric at or 1800 008 155.

Staminade and the Australian sports drink market

Staminade pioneered the Australian sports drink market with the first commercially manufactured and marketed sports drink in Australia. The product appeared on retail shelves in the late 1970s, launched with an advertising campaign fronted by tennis icon John Newcombe. Since those early days, two huge brands have dominated the Australian sports drink market after launching in the 1990s, but Staminade has held its own, particularly in powdered form on supermarket shelves.

What is a sports drink?

Sports drinks have earnt that name because they are specifically designed to provide the right balance of carbohydrates, electrolytes and fluid to adequately fuel exercise and provide fluid for hydration. When used in the recommended way they can provide performance benefits.

During strenuous activity, your body can lose up to two litres of sweat per hour. Electrolytes including sodium and potassium are lost through sweat and need to be replaced. If fluids are not kept within normal limits organ function can be impaired and drinking water alone cannot guarantee the desired bodily response, particularly in competitive sports.

Although we usually associate carbohydrates with starchy foods like pasta, they also exist in liquid form and provide a fuel source for muscles and the brain. Plus, carbohydrates contribute to the taste of sports drinks.

Sports drinks contain the electrolytes, sodium and potassium. The sodium content makes you thirsty and also increases absorption and fluid retention. It can also assist with salt replacement particularly if you have a heavy sweater. The potassium in sports drinks helps maintain electrolyte balance and can assist with muscle contraction during exercise. Sports drinks are recommended for use during exercise lasting more than 90 minutes by providing optimal fluid and fuel delivery. Sports drinks may also provide energy to working muscles and the brain, allowing athletes to perform for longer and more effectively in training and competition. They can also be used before and after exercise to aid preparation and recovery.

How many people consume sports drinks?

According to the latest findings from Roy Morgan Research, eight per cent of the population consume sports drinks like Staminade in any given seven days. Twice as many men (10 per cent) as women (five per cent) drink these beverages, while Australians aged under 25 (14 per cent) are more likely to consume them than any other age group. Unsurprisingly, people who play sports are noticeably more likely to consume sports drinks than other Australians. For example, 28 per cent of people who play baseball, 24 per cent of those who play rugby union, and 22 per cent of those who play Australian Rules football consume at least one sports drink in any given seven days, well above the national average of eight per cent.

How does Staminade compare to other sports drinks?

Staminade powder before, during or after exercise provides more energy and a longer, more effective performance. Staminade’s formulation contains the right balance of carbohydrates and electrolytes to rehydrate and replenish lost energy and lost electrolytes.

Most commercial sports drinks contain sodium levels of between 10 and 25 mmol per litre and potassium between 3 and 5 mmol per litre. Staminade is formulated to contain sodium and potassium levels at 16.4 mmol per litre and 4.8 mmol per litre respectively which are well within the desired standard. Staminade also contains magnesium.

Staminade also helps restore glycogen which is the main storage form of glucose in the body, located primarily in liver and muscle cells. Glycogen ensures body glucose concentrations are kept at sufficient levels to supply the brain. Staminade was the first sports drink powder sold in Australia with magnesium in its formula. Magnesium is one of the four most abundant elements found in the body. It’s essential for normal body function, helping cells utilise sugars to produce vital energy for cells’ mechanisms to work at optimum. It plays a vital role in the body’s energy metabolism.

Australian made sports drink

Steric bought the Staminade brand in 1996 and has been manufacturing Staminade at its Fairfield East  plant in western Sydney. Lemon Lime flavour has been around for many years and is the top seller. Staminade is available in powder in supermarkets and ready-to-drink form is sold through the  foodservice industry via Steric’s distributors. Contact Steric at or 1800 008 155.

Australian-owned Steric headed up by second-generation Richard Brownie

Steric’s Managing Director Richard Brownie is the son of founder William (Bill) Brownie, who is focused on continuing the foundation work of his father who is now retired but an active member of the Steric Board.

The Steric business was founded in 1964 by Graham Steel and Brian Rich, who named the company by combining the first three letters of each of their surnames. Almost immediately Bill Brownie took over Steel’s share of the company. Over the next decade, Brownie and Rich built the business into a leading name in commercial food manufacturing in Australia, and upon Rich’s retirement in 1974, Brownie took full ownership of Steric.

Fast forward to 1995, and Richard, the third of five Brownie boys joined his father’s thriving business. Richard was straight out of university and keen to learn. In his early years, Richard experienced most aspects of the business – factory floor, set up IT systems, production planning & management, and supply chain.

Just five years later when his dad Bill retired, he took on the challenging role of Managing Director. “It’s great to work in a business where you see your product going out the door. It’s a thrill when I see our products on supermarket shelves or being used in pubs and clubs. My role is fun but I also feel a sense of responsibility to grow the business so I can potentially hand it on to the third generation when it’s time for me to retire,” said Richard.

Long-term relationships

Richard describes his role as challenging and rewarding.

“We have now over 100 staff and many are long-term employees. That’s great but we still need to bring on and train recruits to replace people as they retire. The current labour market is very challenging so it’s a constant focus for us.

“It’s also great to have other family members on board. My brother Cameron is a senior manager in the business with the role of Executive Director of Buying and Planning, and he’s been in the business for about 20 years. Dad is also a member of the Board and is still very involved and loves to see the business continue to grow and prosper. Another brother is also on the Board so it’s a real family affair. I’m so proud to say we are a 100 per cent Australian family-owned business. Long-term supplier relationships are also important to Steric. “Where possible, we source products locally and buy overseas when it’s not. We have some supplier relationships that go back more than 30 years. We need to have transparent and trusting relationships with our suppliers because we have to be able to guarantee that any claims we make about our products are accurate. We need to be able to validate them and control important things like allergen contamination,” added Richard.

The role of private label

One of Bill Brownie’s major contributions to the growth of Steric is the start of home brands in the 1980s and 90s with the Franklins No Frills and generic Black & Gold brands.

“The original home brands have now evolved into a very different sector of the market now known as private label. The quality of private label products has improved to meet customer demands, and in many cases are comparable quality as the market leaders.

“Our private label supermarket customers are looking to increase their business. They want to control equity in their own private label brands, rather than just be ‘box movers’ for other brands. “Back in the 1980s and 90s private label accounted for about 80 to 90 per cent of our business, whereas today the share is much lower. Our business is more diverse these days and have built up other channels, such as foodservice and our commercial channel,” commented Richard.

The advantages of local manufacture

Steric manufactures all of its products at its Fairfield East plant.

“We’ve invested in our plant over many years and continue to improve processes and products. The secret of our success lies in our ability to control the whole process from product development to the end product.

“We have a local advantage. As a medium-sized business, we remain agile and can respond quickly to market needs. It’s enabled us to survive and prosper. The COVID pandemic has created a supply chain mess. That’s where our local manufacturing operation gives us a huge advantage,” said Richard.

“Our experience confirms that Australia is experiencing a resurgence in manufacturing. The world has become unstable, in part due to the pandemic, and we’re proud to be part of securing Australia’s food supply.

“We are very good at making quality products and constantly improving. Labour is more expensive but great manufacturers can still grow by continually improving, using quality ingredients, and applying high quality standards. “Steric has an exciting future ahead” added Richard.

Potential growth in foodservice

Steric has a new team heading up the foodservice division which has great growth potential.

“We are not the largest player in the foodservice sector but have huge growth potential in this burgeoning market. Our Sunshine brand continues to impress the market for its value and our premium brand, Plate & Platter is kicking goals which now includes a premium Tomato Ketchup.

“Australia’s foodservice sector continues to grow with more and more Australians eating out in restaurants and cafes. The pandemic put a pause on this sector, but it will continue to thrive as we return to normal.

“At Steric we have an in-house product development team, and they work hard to keep ahead of market trends. They look at flavour trends, as well as shifts in the market towards veganism, plant-based foods, sustainability, and more,” concluded Richard.

The future is bright for Steric with plenty of room for growth at the Western Sydney location, under the guidance of Richard Brownie and his team.

To learn more about Steric visit or call 1800 008 155.

The difference between tomato ketchup and tomato sauce

In the Australian market there are two key differences between tomato ketchup and tomato sauce – the flavour and the thickness. In other countries the same product may be called something else but for Australia, ketchup is sweeter and thicker than traditional Australian tomato sauce which is more sour and more runny.

Therefore, each of these products has particular foods that they complement. Ketchup tastes great on American-style burgers, and tomato sauce is a great match for an Aussie meat pie.

Flavour preferences in Australia

In Australia we generally have a taste preference for sour that we adopted from the English. Americans tend to have a taste preference for sweet which is why their ketchup is sweeter rather than sour.

Different nations around the world have their own 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.

In the US, where, for many generations they’ve differentiated themselves from England, they tend towards a sweeter preference, hence their tomato ketchup is a sweeter product, and many of their processed foods will also tend towards sweetness.

The rise of the hamburger

In Australia the first hamburgers were made by Greek or Italian immigrants in their fish and chip and take away food shops. They realised that the traditional Australian tomato sauce was not as good a match for the burger flavours so added BBQ sauce, which is sweeter, even in Australia.

Over time, American hamburgers grew in popularity in Australia thanks to some of the big fast-food chains, but also more recently in the gourmet burger realm. This led to a greater demand in Australia for tomato ketchup to go with the American-style burgers.

And while, tomato ketchup is not likely to take over from traditional Australian tomato sauce it is going to sit alongside it as an alternative. That’s why at Steric we’ve recently launched a tomato ketchup under our Plate & Platter brand for the foodservice industry.

“Australians on the whole, at least in the past, were descended from English and European countries, we tend towards a sour taste.”

In the US, where, for many generations they’ve differentiated themselves from England, they tend towards a sweeter preference, hence their tomato ketchup is a sweeter product, and many of their processed foods will also tend towards sweetness.

Why are some sauces thicker?

Another factor in sauces is the thickness.

The runnier a sauce is, the quick the flavour comes on and the quicker it dissipates. This can be seen in cuisine like Thai that is very popular in Australia. If the sauce is thicker, the flavour takes longer to come on like it does with tomato ketchup.

In Europe, tomato sauce is also thinner but fresher than its counterparts. They use different processing technology, and they value freshness in flavour, and the product is used to complement other foods.

How do you develop a new sauce?

At Steric we have a product develop team of four people whose job it is to produce our range of Australian manufactured products for the foodservice industry along with private label products we make for supermarket and commercial customers.

When developing our new ketchup product, we already understood what a ketchup should taste like, but we still adapted it to suit Australian tastes by making it a little more sour that its American equivalents.

In producing Plate & Platter Tomato Ketchup, we came up with about five to eight variations before settling on our final recipe. It’s a little bit like making wine, we know what it should taste like and try a few variations before settling on the right flavour.

Many of our products have a more complex product development phase like our Plate & Platter Tartare Sauce because tartare can have much great flavour variations. With that product we worked with several commercial chefs to understand their preferences before finalising and launching our tartare for foodservice.

Australian made Tomato Ketchup

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

The new Plate & Platter Tomato Ketchup is available in a four-litre pack. It can be ordered via Steric’s distributors. Contact Steric at or 1800 008 155.

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.