The increase had provided a significant boost to its profits, the firm said. EHL, which imports, blends and supplies ingredients, attributed the leap to the increasing popularity of Mexican and South American food in addition to a rising tolerance to spicy cuisine among UK consumers.
EHL claimed Mexican food was now the fastest growing cuisine in the UK, albeit from a relatively small base, worth £132.2m (€164.5m) and showing no signs of abating.
It added that Peruvian cuisine, which relies heavily on the Mexican jalapeno chilli, was also growing in popularity.
Uplift in demand
It had seen uplift in demand for Mexican chillies across the board, among food manufacturers, processors, repackers, wholesalers and catering suppliers, said EHL. Customers were becoming much more specific about the provenance of their chillies as well as they sought more authentic food components, it said.
“EHL ingredients has always stocked a large range of chillies from all over the world,” said Tasneem Backhouse, EHL sales director. “Whilst chilli powder originating from India has always been a bestseller, the recent surge in sales of Mexican chillies in particular mirrors the increasing popularity of the cuisine.
“We’re seeing customers who are very specific in the type of chilli they request as they try to make their products as authentic as possible.”
Backhouse added that trade buyers were also requesting specific varieties of chilli and particular scoville ratings (the measurement of how hot they are). That trend indicated that they were also growing in their awareness of the subject.
EHL, which is based in Manchester in the UK, supplies more than 300 food ingredients, from herbs and spices to beans, pulses and dried fruit, to all sectors of the UK food industry.