Researchers at Rutgers University are hot on the trail of finding new exotic pepper types to meet the growing demand from consumers in New Jersey and the Mid-Atlantic.

Since 2010, a group that included Albert Ayeni, ethnic crop specialist; Tom Orton, Extension specialist in vegetable breeding; and Jim Simon, distinguished professor of natural plant products, have been evaluating the attributes of more than 40 exotic hot peppers.

Also involved are Ramy Govindasamy, leader of the ethnic crop research group, as well as colleagues from the University of Massachusetts, University of Florida and Penn State University.

Part of the work includes comparing them to seven mild and sweet pepper types already grown in New Jersey, according to a news release.

Beginning in 2013, the project began breeding new varieties that had desirable fruit quality, earliness, yield, horticultural and pest-resistance characteristics.

From there more than 100 breeding lines were selected to be evaluated in 2014.

Food processors, marketers and retailers also will be enlisted for feedback as well growers.

The project's goal is to release three to six unique new varieties of exotic or hot peppers that will do well in New Jersey and the Mid-Atlantic by 2020.