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North America: Hot pepper growers struggling to meet demand
Hot pepper growers are enjoying excellent conditions for their produce, as the weather warms up. The Culiacan region in Mexico is seeing the bulk of production right now. Temperatures rose during the month of February, but the increase has plateaued, which is a good result for growers.
"Right now, our hot peppers are grown in Culiacan, Sinaloa," said Tony Incaviglia of GR Fresh, based in Texas. "The weather has been good, with temperatures ranging from the mid 70s to mid 80s. The sunny and warm weather has created excellent growing conditions. When the temperature rises above 90, you start to see some quality issues but we haven't seen that yet. The Culiacan region will see the bulk of hot pepper production until we transition to Coahuila at the end of May, into June."
Demand very strong
The demand for hot peppers has meant that growers have had no trouble in moving stock. They noted that supply has not kept up with demand, meaning that broader availability has been important in maintaining a steady market.
"Hot peppers are one of the most demanded commodities," Incaviglia observed. "The consistent demand has encouraged the expansion of year-round availability. However, not one single grower can supply consistently year round, so over nearly 60 years, GR Fresh has established relationships with growers across many locations and now we grow hot peppers in 7 different regions. Despite this, it's still difficult to satisfy all the demand."
Jalapenos still king
Out of all the pepper varieties, Jalapenos are still the most widely used pepper on the North American market. Incaviglia said that other varieties are also in good demand however. "Jalapenos are still the most popular of the hot pepper varieties," he said. "The second most in demand is Poblano, followed by Serrano and then others such as Anaheim and Ghost peppers."
Suppliers are also always thinking of new strategies when it comes to packaging and presenting hot peppers to customers. "Somebody is always coming up with new things," Incaviglia said. "We continue to see more of the value added packaging. There are also new ideas that are discussed. One of them is perhaps offering a mixed package, with several peppers of different varieties in the one pack. Each pepper has a characteristic flavor, and because they vary in spiciness from mild to very hot, there are numerous different applications in cooking."
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