Chilli is one of the most famous spices globally, and as a result, it is one of the most demanded fresh products. But not all countries farm or export chilli. This article will explore the largest chilli producers based on 2020 and 2021 global production figures.
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There are over 4000 chilli varieties, and we have featured some of the hottest chillies in the world in our guide.
Largest Producers of Chilli
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China is a dominating chilli production player and the one the largest producers of chilli in 2022 and 2023. Almost half of the global chilli production comes from China, making it the unrivalled champion in chilli production. Most of the Chilli produced in China is exported as powder. But what makes China such a chilli powerhouse?
We attribute the level of production to favourable weather conditions and diverse climates. The country experiences warm temperatures, adequate sunlight, and well-distributed rainfall. China’s most popular chillie varieties are Erjingtiao, Chaotianjiao, Hainan yellow lantern, and Xiaomila. These varieties are tolerant to the climatic conditions in China, which results in higher yields.
Guizhou, Henan, and Yunnan are the provinces that produce the most chilli in China. The three provinces account for a third of the total chillies production in China. In total, chillie farming in China is practiced in over 28 provinces.
Until 2019, Turkey was third after Mexico in chillie productions. As of 2022, Turkey is the world’s second-largest producer of chillies, with an estimated annual production volume of 3.5 million. The country emerged as a prominent player in the global chilli scene because of its favourable climate and chilli consumption.
Despite its extensive production, Turkey consumes much of its chillies. Turkish cuisine, celebrated for its rich and diverse flavours, relies heavily on including chilli peppers.
The country’s climate is hot and dry but often has mild and rainy conditions during winter. These conditions meet the ideal climatic conditions for chillies, which are warm and dry weather. The warmth is perfect for chillies, especially during the fruit’s maturity. In addition, chillies yield well in higher altitudes in tropical and subtropical climates.
Chillies in Turkey are mainly grown in south Turkey in the Demre, Mavi Kent, and Tarsus-Mersin regions. Some of the most popular chillie varieties in the region include Sivri Biber, Lobna Biber, Carliston Biber, and Macar Dolma, among others. These varieties are more adaptive to the Turkish climate and yield very high.
Coming in the top three as the largest producer of chillies is Indonesia. The country’s tropical climate, characterised by high temperatures and humidity, provides an ideal environment for chillies to thrive. In addition, the country has fertile volcanic soil, ideal for chilli pepper farming. Besides excellent climatic conditions, Indonesian cuisines significantly contribute to the increased need to produce chillies in the country.
Chillie production has a long history and led to some regions in the country being referred to as “Spice Islands” by the Europeans in the 16th century. The alias serves as a historical reference and a testament to Indonesia’s commitment to spice production.
And despite producing so much chilli, the country isn’t in its top three largest exports. This explains that most of its chilli is consumed locally, although a few still make it to the international trade.
If you have been reading about chillies for a while, most are from Mexico. This list would, therefore, haven’t been complete with Mexico. Mexico is the ideal environment for chillies, with the most producing regions being central and northern. The most commonly grown chilli variety is the Jalapeno and Habaneors. Some of the chilli varieties that originated from mexico include poblano, jalapeno, pasilla, guajillo, serrano, and habanero.
Mexico has a hot and warm tropical climate ideal for high yields of chillies. Most temperatures range between 15 and 25 degrees Celsius, whereas the annual rainfall is 725mm, although some regions may experience up to 1000mm. On the other hand, chillies yield high temperatures that are 850 – 1200mm. The weather in Mexico is a haven for chilli production.
Most of the cultivars grown globally originated from Mexico. In addition, most of the hottest chillies in the world are hybrids of Mexican varieties.
Despite the high demand for chillies locally, Mexico is the largest exporter of chillies in the world. The country’s leading export destination is the United States. The country’s local demand for chillies is mainly in making Mexican cuisines, renowned for its bold and spicy flavours.
Spain is the leading producer of chilli in Europe. The country’s warm and arid regions, particularly Murcia and Andalusia, provide ideal conditions for chilli production. Spain’s average rainfall annually ranges between 650 and 1000mm, which is the ideal environment for chillies. In addition, the average altitude in the region is 600m, ideal for warm and humid temperatures.
Murcia, one of the most chilli-producing regions, has the most conducive climate for chilli cultivation. The region has hot summers and mild winters, whereas the soil is fertile and rich. On the other hand, Andalusia has sun-drenched landscapes, which further contributes to Spain’s chilli production.
Spain exports a third of its chilli production to Germany, with its export value to the country for 2022/ 2023 being 250 Million kilos. Other countries Spain exports its chillies include France and the United Kingdom.
Egypt has perfect artificial farms for chilli cultivation, especially within Cairo farms. Apart from that, Egypt has strong historical ties to ancient spice routes. These ties served as the onset of chillies farming in Egypt.
Today, Egypt exports most of its chillies to Hungary, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom. Despite its often hostile climates, Egypt’s agricultural sector has embraced modern practices, contributing to its significant chilli output.
Nigeria’s most common chilli varieties include Ata rodo, Tatashe, Piri Piri/ chilli, cayenne pepper, and Cameroon pepper. The country receives about 1165mm of annual rainfall, perfect for growing chillies.
Most of the chillies grown in Nigeria is mainly for export, with major destination for fresh chilli in the United States, Australia, China, and Malaysia. Chilli cultivation is constantly growing, so its export values are likely to increase in the future.
The demand for chillies in the United States is higher than the supply. Therefore, it still produces locally despite importing from other major producers, such as Mexico.
Most locally produced chillies come from Texas, Arizona, California and New Mexico. California is the largest chillies-producing state in the USA, as its climate, weather, altitude and warmth are ideal for chilli farming. The state has about 400mm of rainfall annually.
The most common varieties in the United States are Capsicum, bell peppers, wax, cayenne, jalapeños, and Thai peppers.
The Netherlands is a popular country in the agricultural space, mainly because the country embraces greenhouse innovation. The country makes artificial farms perfect for chillies and has numerous engineered varieties that adapt to the weather. This adaptive nature of the Netherlands makes it a notable chilli producer in Europe. Moreover, the country imports from other producers and acts as a European distribution hub.
The most common chilli variety in the Netherlands is the Dutch chillies, a hybrid developed from the Cayenne. Other modified varieties grown in the Netherlands include jalapeno, red and yellow habanero, and padrone peppers. Germany, France, and the United Kingdom are the largest destination markets for chilli.
Tunisia has a warm and arid climate, an environment that chillies thrive in. Some varieties that yield well in Tunisia are mainly Capsicum Annuum varieties. The ideal climate for chilli cultivation in Tunisia is in Manouba, Nabeul and Sidi Bouzid. These regions produce more than 80% of the chillies in Tunisia.
Tunisia exports considerable chilli to Europe, with most of its markets being France, Netherlands, and Italy. The growing demand for chilli in Tunisia and its export markets, especially Italy, can only increase local production.
Closing our list is Algeria, a neighbour of Tunisia and a competitor for the French Chilli Market. The country shares an equally conducive environment for growing chilli, especially in Annaba province, where most chillies come from.
The country’s diverse climate ranges from coastal to Saharan regions. The country experiences average rainfall from 400mm to 600mm annually. In addition to being rainy during winter, it’s warm, ideal for fruiting the chillies.
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