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Some like it hot: How to stand out in Mexico's crowded hot sauce category

By Niamh Michail contact

- Last updated on GMT

Chili peppers are an essential part of Mexican cuisine, and the country's hot sauce category is a very busy space. So how can products stand out? We spoke to some companies that claim to be doing things differently.

The hot sauce to pour over fresh fruit

Haydeé Barrón is head chef at Salsas Castillo. She was offering attendees at ANTAD Alimentaria fresh fruit skewers to dip into a fountain of the company’s Tolindo sauce.

The aim [of this product] was to make it more fun to eat fruit, especially for children and young people because the flavor is not too [over]powering but really completes the moment of enjoying the snack.  

"It’s savory but also has a hint of acidity because of the tamarind pulp in it. It fully enhances the experience of the snack.”

The hot sauce for tequila, mezcal, and beer

Sexto Fruto, meanwhile, is a tomato company that makes sangrita. Sangrita is a savory drink made with fresh tomatoes, spices and chili, to accompany a glass of tequila or mezcal. People take a sip of tequila and then a sip of sangrita, explained Jazmin Espino, head of product development. It can also be mixed together with cold beer.

Most Mexican families, restaurants, and bars have their own recipe to make their home-made sangrita and so Sexto Fruto was careful to develop a product free from artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, she said.

The hand-dried, artisan hot sauce

Capones chilis are a variety of green chilaca chili grown in the Michoacán province in Mexico. They are dried in a traditional way until they become dark red and almost black in color.

According to Jose Diaz, head of commercial development for Michoacán’s Secretary for Rural and Agri-food Development, it is this artisanal process that makes the product stand out.  

This is an artisanal way of working. It’s home-made. There is no industrial-scale production. It is prepared in the farmers’ homes in Queréndaro municipality.”

Demand for such products is increasing, he said.  

“The truth is that people, home-makers and the population in general are looking for products that are more naturally processed, that don’t contain as many preservatives, and that are from small farmers so the economy keeps going.”

The fruity mango and papaya-based hot sauces

Georgina Peniche from La Meridana, meanwhile, said its stand-out products are its mango and papaya habanero chili sauces.

“Papaya and mango are very traditional in the Yucatan peninsula. They are grown here and people eat them every day. We use them in our hot sauces to give customers a new flavor combining sweet, salty and spicy.”

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