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David Murcia, of UNICA Group:

"Demand for hot peppers has skyrocketed over the past three years"

Hot peppers are becoming an increasingly attractive option to diversify the pepper range, as the company UNICA Group has been demonstrating with the development of this segment in partnership with one of its member cooperatives, CABASC, over the past five years.

"We started focusing our work on a line of hot peppers to diversify our wide range of conventional peppers, where there is great competition. It is also essential to differentiate with special products for our customers in the retail industry, as that increases consumer traffic in their stores. Distribution chains of northern and central Europe seek to work with the highest possible number of options," explains David Murcia, director of Business Development at UNICA Group.

At first they carried out small production and marketing trials with chilli peppers of various colours (green, red, orange and yellow), and after a positive response, they decided to increase the acreage as well as the range of varieties. Today, in addition to chilli peppers, they offer varieties of Fresno, Serenade and Habaneros.

According to David Murcia, the hot pepper segment is "a world of its own," with a great range of varieties, colours, levels of spiciness, etc. "We choose the types and varieties that are better suited to our growing areas in Almeria, and which allow us to offer our customers a wide range in terms of spiciness, from very mild to the hottest on the Scoville scale, during the entire campaign."

This has allowed UNICA Group to become a specialist in the segment and one of the largest firms in terms of volume and diversification.

"Over the past three years, we have seen an increase in demand. Our customers confirm that hot pepper sales have skyrocketed, partly a result of the changes in Europe's culinary trends," he continues.

"We've all enjoyed, 'or suffered', spicy food at Asian or Mexican restaurants, but we didn't consider using it in our cooking. Now, foreign European residents are no longer the only ones buying hot peppers for use in the kitchen; Europeans have already lost this fear," affirms David.

For now, the markets with the most potential are Austria, Germany, Scandinavia, the UK and Ireland.

Regarding packaging, with the production of hot peppers being relatively limited compared to other commodity products, small formats are used, with units of between 60 and 100 grams.

"We have formats that mix various colours of the same variety, as well as mixes with different varieties offering varying degrees of spiciness and different flavours. We also make use of bulk formats for markets where the product is sold by weight at the point of sale.

Labels also bring added value, including a Scoville scale indicating the pepper's spiciness level and a little suggestion on how to use it in the kitchen.

For more information:
David Murcia
Unica Group S.C.A
T: + 34 950 181 500
M: +34 608436495
[email protected]
[email protected]

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