Hot News as Tesco's British Chilli Season Starts Early
As the popularity of chillies in the UK continues to soar, perfect spring growing conditions have brought forward the start of the UK's chilli pepper season by five weeks.
Last year Brits bought an estimated 230 million chilli peppers - a 50 per cent increase in demand since 2011.
But it's the super-hot varieties that are creating the greatest excitement with chilli pepper fans.
Last year Tesco saw sales for super-hot chillies rocket by 130 per cent, largely down to the popularity of the world's hottest commercially grown chilli pepper, the Carolina Reaper, which was available for the first time exclusively at the supermarket's stores across the UK last summer.
The perfect spring growing conditions means there will be twice as many of the notorious Bedfordshire grown Carolina Reaper variety this year.
Tesco chilli pepper buyer Phoebe Burgess said:
“The extension to the British chilli season means we will have a lot more of the legendary Carolina Reaper available for customers this summer.
“We know that a growing number of customers really love to cook with hot chillies and the Carolina Reaper has a rich fruity flavour with a slightly sweet taste so a tiny sliver could transform everyday favourite dishes.”
The tiny chilli peppers really pack a punch – and measuring 2.2 million Scoville Units they are 400 times hotter than a jalapeno.
They are exclusively grown by Bedfordshire farmer Salvatore Genovese who is the UK's largest chilli pepper grower.
He started growing chilli peppers 15 years ago after he took over his parents' cucumber business and now grows about one million, or 15 tonnes of chillies each week for the UK market.
“This year we've had really good levels of light and some great weather which has helped push the season forward.
“I've also planted a lot more of the Carolina Reaper because the high demand last summer took us by surprise. That, together with the earlier start to the season, means we will have nearly twice as many as last year.”
Other chilli peppers grown by Salv that are stocked by Tesco include the previously hottest UK grown variety, the Komodo Dragon, as well as the Scotch Bonnet and Habanero in red, green, chocolate and yellow; Flavia, Purple Valentina; Cayenne; Fresno in yellow, green, red and orange and his own favourite the Serenade.