I am considering farming chiles, but I need to know where I can sell them. Do buyers contract with growers? If yes, for certain types? How do I reach the buyers?
A: Hello Lex:
In New Mexico, most farmers contract with processors or produce buyers before they plant their chiles. Over a hundred years, an industry has developed here and the farmers know who is buying chiles. Such an industry for chiles does not exist in Arkansas, so it will be difficult for you to find buyers for fresh chiles in your area. And it’s difficult and expensive to ship fresh chiles, as they are perishable. Reaching buyers or potential buyers of chiles is difficult, but there is a way to start. Go to our Industry Directory at
http://www.fiery-foods.com/directory/default.htm, click on "Power Search" and search for the following categories: "Supplier: Co-Packer" and "Supplier: Chile Peppers." The companies under "co-packer" obviously buy chiles or mash somewhere in order to make sauces, salsas and other products for other companies. The companies under "Supplier: Chile Peppers" are usually buying chiles from farmers to resell. The email address is listed, so you could do a standard inquiry and copy and paste it in a letter to each company. If you want a wider search, search for "Manufacturers: Hot Sauce" and the various other Manufacturer categories.
Regarding what chiles to grow, forget about the New Mexican varieties, as there’s a surplus of them. I would suggest habaneros, because what you didn’t sell fresh you could make a mash out of. Red jalapenos are in demand because people are making chipotles from them.
Growing chiles for specialty mashes might be a possibility. Mash suppliers are also listed in the Directory. Making mash is described in the article at: http://www.fiery-foods.com/dave/hotsauce.html
Finally, read my tongue-in-cheek article "So You Want to Be a Chile Farmer, Eh?" at: http://www.fiery-foods.com/dave/chilefarmer.html