Spicy remains hot

by Keith Nunes
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LONDON — Consumer demand for food and beverages with a spicy edge is not abating. Products are gaining ground not only on menus, but retail shelves as well.

“The food service sector has witnessed a rapid rise in the popularity of international restaurants such as Nando’s, which offer a range of increasingly hot options,” said Sam Allen, an analyst with the researcher Canadean. “This has led to similarly positioned eateries spicing up their menus to meet the growing demand for fiery flavors, with the trend trickling through to retail.

“The growing popularity of the spice trend is showing no signs of decline, as consumers are continually seeking that next, new fiery flavor. Food service outlets have responded by providing menus packed with piquant dishes to test the taste buds of the bravest diners, and FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) manufacturers are following suit.”

Datassential, Chicago, noted recently that spicy sauces are a growing trend in the sandwich category. For example, earlier this year, Jack in the Box introduced Jack’s Blazin’ Chicken Sandwich, topped with a ghost pepper-ranch sauce and Swiss-style cheese. Sonic Drive-In during the summer launched a pair of sweet and spicy habanero chicken sandwiches.

“Tesco created a range of premium ‘Three chilli steak burgers’ infused with jalapeño, habanero and birdseye chilli’s, marketed towards consumers looking beyond the basic beef offerings,” Allen of Canadean said. “ASDA is also offering spicy savory snacks, such as Habanero Chilli Peanuts. As the demand for heat intensifies across food sectors, cheese, chocolate and even alcohol will succumb to the search for spice.

“Spicy flavors are not only reaching dinner plates, but finding their way into dessert dishes as the desire for spice with your ice-cream grows. Little Baby’s, based in Philadelphia, provide a variety of unusual ice cream flavors, such as their black pepper butter pecan, along with an eye-watering Earl Grey sriracha combination.”

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