A Taste for spice: Global product launches of spicy products mirror consumers' craving for spiciness, says Kalsec report

Photo: iStock/Rez-Art

Looking at global product launches, the world is craving for hot and spicy, according to the HeatSync Heat Index tracked by food ingredient company Kalsec.

In 2016, there were 18,000 new products introduced globally that were spicy—compare this with just 3,000 in 2007. It marks a 6% increase from the previous year, reaching a 20% compound annual growth rate over the nine years the index started tracking.

Developed in partnership with Innova Market Insights, the index monitors “global new product Introductions of over 80 different specialty peppers, condiments, sauces, and seasonings, including close to 45 different specialty peppers,” Gary Augustine, executive director of marketing development at Kalsec, told FoodNavigator-USA.

A quarter of consumers are eating spicy foods more often than they did one year ago

According to the company, global new product introductions with hot and spicy ingredients increased for a ninth straight year, showing a consistent, growing consumer interest in hot and spicy foods.

In fact, the company found that a quarter of US consumers are eating spicy foods more often than they did one year ago, and half of consumers think foods taste better with some level of heat, based on an on-line survey Kalsec conducted in Jan 2017 of 1,400 US consumers.

Sales numbers tell the same story. According to Euromonitor data, sales of chili sauces in the US increased by 4.9% in calendar year 2015 to hit $646.8m, and increased again by 5.8% to reach $684.3m in 2016.

Regional varieties, from breakfast to dinner to dessert

“Consumers are not only eating hot and spicy foods more often, but we see a continued interest in combinations such as hot and sweet,” Augustine said.

In fact, this trend transcends the addition of spiciness using only sauces—peppers and their spiciness are appearing in places once unheard of in a mass-produced packaged food product, such as in Noosa’s yogurts and Little Bird’s candied jalapeno treats.

Trend forecasters have also noticed that American consumers today have the increased ability to distinguish the regional nuances of spicy flavors from around the world. Campbell’s Soup’s Culinary Trendscape Report for 2017 documented the mainstream acceptance of ‘Curry Culture’ in the US, as well as a post-Sriracha condiment craze, with once unheard of sauces like the Korean Gojuchang and the Luso-African piri-piri now in the radars of American consumers.

“Tabasco used to be the mainstream of sauce, or Louisiana—anything cayenne really—would be all that the consumer would consider as a hot sauce,” Amy Wilson, vice president of marketing communications at The Padilla Group, which makes several hot sauce brands, told FoodNavigator-USA in a recent podcast.

“Now you can see thousands of thousands of different hot sauces ranging everywhere from your basic cayenne peppers all the way up to ghost peppers.”

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