red chile pepper capsicum chili

Video: Trends in Chile Peppers & Global Flavors

Chile peppers and global flavors are two of the hottest food trends in 2020. Find out which chiles and global cuisines are most popular, and if we see these trends continuing on their upward paths after COVID-19.

Hot & Spicy Food Trend

The popularity of spicy foods has increased steadily over the past decade. Today, more than half of U.S. consumers choose spicy options for their meals. This number has doubled since 2017.1

The Evolution of the Chili Pepper Trend

The palates of today’s consumers have evolved beyond simple mild, medium, and hot heat levels. They have developed an interest in the characteristics and flavors associated with specific peppers, such as anchoguajillochile de arbolserrano, and others.2,3

Top 15 Chile Flavors in the U.S.

2015 to July 2020, All Categories, New Launches4

Top 15 Chile Flavors in the U.S. 2015 to July 2020

Top 10 CPG Categories Using Chile Flavors

U.S. Only, 2015 to July 2020, All Categories, New Launches4

Top 10 CPG Categories Using Chile Flavors in U.S. 2015-July 2020

Top Chile Pepper Sales – July 2019 to June 20205

Top Sellers:

Mexican chipotle chile pepper whole chili pods
Peruvian ancho chile whole chili pods
Mexican guajillo chile whole chili pods
Chile de Arbol

Greatest increase over the course of the year:

Capsicum New Mexico Hatch chile pepper chili

Green Hatch

Steadiest increase each quarter:

capsicum Mexican chile pepper habanero chili

Sauces & Seasonings

An Easy Way to Switch it Up in Home Cooking

chili sauce with garlic and capsicum chile peppers

Sauces and seasonings are an excellent way to reach people at home. Consumers are always looking for ways that they can dress up meals they’re already cooking.

  • Habanero Ketchup
  • Serrano Lime Chicken Seasoning
  • Ancho Barbeque Sauce
  • Chile de Arbol Scampi Sauce
  • Cayenne Brown Sugar Candied Bacon Kit

Foodservice: Where Trends Begin

Menu Penetration Shows Strong Upward Chili Trend

Trends tend to begin in food service, and then migrate to the home by way of packaged goods.

Chili menu mentions increased 60% from Q1 2016 to Q1 2019. Americans have moved beyond the basic bottle of hot sauce to embrace a much wider variety of hot peppers as ingredients as well as spicy flavor profiles across the menu.6

The spicy trend is expected to continue in restaurants. Over the next four years, menu penetration is expected to grow for these specific items:7

  • Tajin: 541%
  • Hot Sauce: 75%
  • Ancho Pepper: 93%
  • Michelada: 71%

Top Chili Pepper Menu Trends:8
July 2019 Through Jun 2020

Most Menu Penetration:

  1. Jalapeno: 32%
  2. Sweet & Spicy: 14%
  3. Chipotle: 17%
  4. Sweet Chili: 8%
  5. Sriracha: 6%
  6. Poblano: 5%

Most Growth Year Over Year

  1. Habanero: ↑ 14%
  2. Sriracha: ↑ 14%
  3. Hatch: ↑ 13%
  4. Guajillo: ↑ 9%

Popular Menu Items

  • Nachos
  • Quesadillas
  • Quesaritos
  • Wings
  • Asian Sweet Chili
  • Wings
  • Spicy Chicken Nuggets
  • Southwest Salad
  • Chile Rellenos
Asian Food with Chili Peppers

Discovery Trend: World Flavors

66% of U.S. consumers “love to discover new flavors”9

Top 5 World Flavors in CPG

U.S. Only, All Categories, Semi-Annual Number of New Launches 2015 to June 20204

Italian flavors, while still at the top, are trending sharply downward.

Mexican and Thai flavors – which both feature chilies and heat – are holding strong.

Top 5 World Flavors in CPG - U.S. Only, All Categories, Semi-Annual Number of New Launches 2015 to June 2020

Discovery Trend: Life After COVID

  • 30% of Americans are looking forward to eating Mexican food again in restaurants – the most anticipated global flavor.7
  • 30% of Americans are looking forward to eating Asian food again in restaurants.7
  • Menu penetration of Harissa is expected to grow 67% over the next 4 years. Harissa is just one of the Moroccan flavors growing in popularity.7

Meet the Growing Trends


1. Food Navigator, USA, Why the Hot & Spicy Food Trend is an Exciting Opportunity, December 2019

2. IFT.org, 2020 Flavor Forecast, December 2019

3. Food Business News, Digging deeper into global flavors, July 2020

4. Innova Market Insights Database

5. Culinary Farms Sales

6. Mintel, August 2019

7. Datassential & SFA, Business Planning: The Road Ahead, July 2020

8. Tastewise

9. Innova Market Insights, Top Ten Trends 2019