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Q: Mr. DeWitt,

I began making and selling my own hot sauces about 6 months ago.  I am also working toward my MBA, and for my final project, I am writing a business plan for my business in the hopes of making a good grade, and more importantly, in the hopes of getting my business off the ground.  I would be eternally grateful if you could answer a few questions for me: 

1. What is the biggest challenge to a small hot sauce company becoming competitive?

2. What were total hot sauce sales for 2002?

3. Do you have any marketing strategies for a small company with a small marketing budget?  In other words, what is the biggest bang for the buck?

4. Do you see a leveling off or decline of the hot sauce industry in the next several years?  Why or why not?

5. How did you get started in the fiery foods business?


Mark & Carla Combs

Owners, Venom Hot Sauce Company


A: Hello Mark and Carla:

I’ll be happy to answer your questions.

1.  The biggest challenge is finding a unique selling proposition and marketing your product based upon that.  Although having a good product is important, marketing is essential for success.

2.  Hot sauce sales in the U.S. in all industry segments are estimated to be about $250 million.

3.  For a small budget I would say a combination of exposure in shows like our National Fiery-Foods & Barbecue Show plus strategically placed website banner ads would be best.

4.Hot sauces in particular and fiery-foods in general have been growing at the rate of about 10 percent a year.  This is because they are invading Middle America and are no longer just niche, specialty foods.

5.  I got started because of my media background.  I had been a writer and show producer long before I discovered chiles and fiery-foods.  Once I did discover them, it was only natural for me to focus on them as a specialty.

Good luck with your projects.

Best regards,


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