Vinegar has been researched for its ability to limit the rise in glucose levels following a meal. Last year Swedish researchers reported in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (vol 59, issue 9, pp983-988) that the effect of reducing the body's insulin response to a carbohydrate meal increases feelings of satiety - a finding that could help dieters stick to their plan.
Vinegar-drinking is common practice in Japan, where it is widely accepted to help fight fatigue improve circulation, and generally be good for health.
Last year, the Japan Times reported that the country's largest vinegar maker, Mizkan Group, had seen the market for drinking vinegar nearly triple to 21.46 billion yen between March and August 2004 from 7.57 billion yen in the same period in 2000.
However in its newly published report entitled Vinegar and Cooking Sherry/Wine in the US, Packaged Facts says that industry leaders in the US are failing to differentiate their products on usage, instead letting private labels, whose offerings may be prices 30 per cent lower, run away with a third of sales.
If it follows Japanese health trends, the US tends to do so at a distance of about three years.
In addition to its health benefits and the most obvious uses as a dressing, vinegar can also be used as a disinfectant, deodorizer and cleaner. The market researcher, which projects that the vinegar market will grow 1.4 percent from $409m in 2005 to $415m in 2010, also flagged the potential for flavored vinegars using a wealth of different fruits - such as raspberry, passion fruit, and even spices like ginger.
"It's really time to stop thinking of vinegar as a commodity and focus on alternative positioning options that go beyond cooking to reinvent the products and build brand loyalty," said Packaged Facts publisher Don Montuori.
"With today's openness to world foods, organics, green products and healthier living, vinegar has the potential to break out of its bottom-shelf image and stand out as one of the most versatile products on the market."