addo Explores Heat Part Two - Chili Peppers Bring Big Business

The difference between chili peppers and other crops isn’t necessarily the money, it’s the notoriety and novel nature the fruit creates. Creating coveted bottles of the hottest sauces ever conceived makes chili pepper farmers and their spicy business practices one of the most fun stories in agriculture. Whether its breaking world records or melting YouTuber’s faces off the bone, there’s a lot of time, energy, and money invested into the hottest chili peppers in the world and people have taken notice.

Chili peppers have an incredibly widespread origin. Christopher Columbus often credited with the discovery and proliferation of peppers after he mistook the Americas for India, and mistook peppers for black peppercorns, henceforth chili peppers were the name that stuck. But Chris-Co wasn’t the first person to discover the pepper plant, Native Indians from the Caribbean to the Southwest continental United States were using wild grown pepper plants to spice up their dishes. The Portuguese played a vital part in bringing the chili pepper to the world at large. They had complex trade routes from South America to India. The crop is so widespread that botanists once wondered if the plant’s origins were India or Mexico, but it is indeed South America.

However, Mexico is one of the world’s leading producer of chili peppers and equates to $1.2 of the global $30 billion industry. Other top producers include Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, Morocco, and the United States. Obviously the global market for peppers is huge. With peppers in high demand, it’s created a lucrative lane for small business owners looking to get into the hot sauce game. One of the best examples of that is found in Fort Mills South Carolina, the birthplace of the hottest pepper in the world, the insidious Carolina Reaper.

Ed Currie’s PuckerButt Pepper Company posted over $1.5 million dollars in sales last year and attracts people from all over the world to try the pain-inducing Carolina Reaper pepper and his numerous other scorching sauces and pepper cultivars. PuckerButt’s average heat hovers around 1.3 million Scoville units, whereas the average Jalapeno ranges between 2500 and 8000 Scoville units. The Reaper and even hotter peppers like Pepper X are turned into salsas and sauces that people actually enjoy. The global hot sauce industry is expected to reach $3.6 billion by 2026 in no thanks to farmers like Currie and his spectacular conquest of spice.

Be sure to inquire about Chef Eric Rivera’s small-batch hot sauces he makes available at the addo:incubator in Ballard. There are only 12 to 24 bottles made in each lot and each bottle is fermented for 12 days minimum. Every batch comes in full of different rad flavors like melon, cantaloupe, and pineapple. Soon you’ll be able to purchase sauces right from, stay tuned for more updates.

Written by Jonathan Olsen-Koziol