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Some like it hot... In fact, consumers now like their food hotter than ever, says Kalsec

Things getting a bit heated? Experts from Kalsec chat to chefs at the Research Chefs Association (RCA) annual conference & culinology expo in North Carolina

Consumer demand for hotter, spicier, foods is increasing on both sides of the Atlantic, says Michigan-based natural extracts specialist Kalsec, which has tied up with Mintel to develop new ‘heat indexes’ measuring usage of hot peppers in retail and foodservice.

The Kalsec HeatSync Heat Indexes follow usage of more than 30 different hot peppers using data from Mintel’s Menu Insights and Global New Products Database (GNPD).

The US index - which evaluates more than 2,400 restaurant food and drink menus and has grown 21% since 2009 - increased 8% in 2012, while the EU Index - which measures new retail product introductions - increased 16%.

Jalapeno and poblano peppers showed strong growth in the US in 2012 

The jalapeno and poblano peppers showed strong growth in the US in 2012, while products with cayenne peppers increased in Europe. The habanero pepper showed above average index gains in both markets.

While snack foods showed the strongest category growth for hot and spicy foods, prepared meals and sauces have also got a lot hotter, said Karen Buczek, Kalsec product director of flavors.

“We not only see the consumer’s desire for hot and spicy foods increasing, but also the diversity of peppers and applications for which they are being used.”

The index is named after Kalsec’s new HeatSync systems, which are designed to control the timing, intensity and location on the palate of heat (pungency) for specific application requirements, and enable its experts to design the precise hot sensation customers are looking for.

Click here to listen to FoodNavigator-USA’s interview about HeatSync with executive director of marketing Gary Augustine at last year’s IFT show in Las Vegas.

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