Hot Peppers

Hot peppers are a major condiment crop produced and consumed in all countries in CARICOM – both in households and in the food industry. Significant quantities also go into local processing of pepper-based products as well as exports to both the North American and European markets. There are several varieties of hot pepper grown in the region. 

Current situation

Development of the industry is ongoing through entities such as the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI). CARDI’s hot peppers programme uses the commodity value chain approach to pursue specific actions:

  • enhancement of the productivity of commercial varieties through the development and improvement of varieties for use across the region
  • production of high quality seeds
  • establishment of productivity indices and investment profiles for these varieties
  • improvement and stabilisation of indigenous varieties of interest to specific countries

With regard to markets, Caribbean producers face ongoing competition locally due to processors having to import pepper mesh to account for shortfalls in local production to meet their needs, or due to relatively higher prices of locally-produced hot peppers. This is the case despite some processors indicating a preference for the locally-produced peppers because of the superior pungency and flavour.

A marketing intelligence report on hot peppers commissioned by the CARICOM Secretariat as part of the Regional Transformation Programme for Agriculture, revealed that among the major markets of relevance to CARICOM (Miami, New York, Toronto, UK), the US is by far the most attractive in terms of size, proximity and potential for growth.

The Canadian market is relatively small and so is the UK, which is dominated by Asian and African suppliers. CARICOM’s major competitors in the US market are Mexico, the Dominican Republic and supplies from the South East United States, which are restricted by a growing season with a narrow window.

In Miami, New York, Toronto and the UK, Jamaica was found to be the most competitive. This was mainly due to much lower freight cost due to closer proximity to the markets. Despite this, however, the most recent data indicate that over 98% of peppers produced in Jamaica are consumed in the local fresh and agro-processing markets.

Trinidad and Tobago was competitive in the Miami and Toronto Markets while St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines were only competitive in the Miami market.

The constraints to expansion in the production of hot peppers in CARICOM are in the areas of:

  • reduction in the cost of production as in the case of Guyana and Barbados
  • keeping up to date with developments in packaging
  • competition from other producers who export to the US

Business case

Why invest in hot pepper production?

Hot Pepper producers

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