The markets for chili peppers continue to heat up with customer preferences for hotter products, suppliers say.
Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos., which ships a full roster of vegetables, has seen its chili pepper shipments rise, said Shay Kennedy, sales specialist and product manager for chilies on the East Coast at L&M’s Moultrie, Ga., growing operation.
“We ship chili peppers year round from the growing areas of Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Nogales (Ariz.), and we continue to increase our acreage with chili peppers each year,” Kennedy said.
Pamela RiemenschneiderGrowers say they're seeing increased demand for chili peppers, including specialty varieties such as habaneros and poblanos.Kennedy said markets were “very strong this season” in Florida and “came off some” when Georgia started, but that decline had leveled off by the end of June.
“The quality has been exceptional and the movement very good,” she said.
L&M has seen jalepeño peppers continue to pace the category, Kennedy said.
“The jalapeños remain the most popular of the chili peppers. However, long hots, cubanelles, Hungarian wax are also very popular,” she said.
L&M grows all of those varieties, as well as serranos, finger hots, red fresnos, anaheims, habaneros and caribes, Kennedy said.
Sales for all varieties are increasing across the country, she said.
“The Chicago, New York and Cleveland markets purchase a lot of chili peppers,” she said.
As of July 7, 1 1/9-bushel cartons of Anaheim peppers from Mexico were priced at $17-18, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Jalapñnos were $12-13; poblanos, $11-12; and serranos, $17-18.
A year earlier, shipments of anaheim peppers from Mexico in the same size carton were $17-20; jalapeños and poblanos, $14-17; and serranos, $12-16.
Niche varieties, such as habanero, poblano and Mesilla peppers, seem to be gaining traction said Edward Ogaz, owner of Seco Spice Co., a grower-shipper in Berino, N.M.
“That seems to be a growing market, and so does organic,” Ogaz said.
Prices have been steady, Ogaz said.
“They’re not climbing, but I think America is looking for more domestic product, which is helping domestically grown products, obviously, and that’s helping us processors and producers here in the U.S.,” he said.
The New Mexico growing season appeared to be on track for a normal start, in late July, said Bill Coombs, salesman with Desert Springs Produce in Arrey, N.M.
The company grows mild, hot and extra-hot green chilies, he said.
Coombs said the markets for each were expanding.