Skip to main content

Four things to know about hot sauce

Learn all about this fiery condiment
Hot sauce
Getty Images
Advertisement - article continues below


Consumers are familiar with hot sauces from North America, including Mexico, but other varieties are growing. Carmen McCracken founded Toronto’s Firecracker Pepper Sauce with her husband Mike to share her family’s Indo-Trinidadian recipes. “Our products are Trini-style pepper sauces, which have been passed down from my Indian ancestors who came to Trinidad as indentured labourers back in the late 1800 to early 1900s,” she says. “Their spices and peppers, combined with the already culturally diverse Afro, Hispanic and British influence on the island, created a unique and distinctively Trinidadian sauce.”

Mitch Yeatman, category manager at Longo’s, says Caribbean hot sauces have long been popular with his customers. “We also have a lot of success with Asian hot sauces, such as sriracha.”


Hot sauce fans are seeking more than just heat, says Deborah Sharpe, group marketing director for McCormick Canada, which produces Frank’s RedHot and Cholula brands. “There’s an increased interest in new flavours and varieties that experiment with new chilies, peppers and other sources of heat and ingredients,” Sharpe says. Consumers are also using hot sauce to enhance flavour during cooking and, she says, hot sauce enthusiasts often purchase more than one flavour.

New and unconventional ingredients and flavour combinations (like pineapple jerk, guava and passionfruit) and sweet additions like maple syrup and honey are finding their way into today’s hot sauces. These options are often marketed as higher-end, artisanal options. “Consumers who lean towards artisanal sauces are not afraid to spend a little more on curated sauces that offer unique and exciting flavours,” explains Longo’s Yeatman. “In the past, you used to see a lot of cheaper products. Today, we have hot sauces selling for over $10 and these are some of our faster moving products.”

While Yeatman has noticed vendors mixing hot sauces with other condiments to create new products like a spicy ketchup or hot mayonnaise, he says that these products have not typically sold well. “I think end-users like having the ability to mix the sauce in themselves with a product of their choice,” he explains.


The global hot sauce market reached a value of US$4.5 billion in 2020, according to a report from ResearchAndMarkets . And sales of the fiery condiment are expected to have moderate growth over the next four years fuelled by the popularity of Pan-Asian and Latin American cuisines.


If retailers are eager to encourage more hot sauce sales, Joel Gregoire, associate director of food and drink at Mintel, suggests offering guidance and inspiration to customers for creative uses. “Provide direction on how hot sauces can be infused into meals or snacks as a topping or ingredient,” he explains. From a merchandising perspective, Gregoire says this means placing hot sauces next to foods that they can be paired with, when practical.

Grocers can also try creating a “hot sauce destination” within their stores, something Longo’s has experimented with. “We moved all hot sauces to an off-shelf location and listed roughly 40 new ones,” Yeatman says. “The goal was to set us [apart] from other conventional retailers,” that don’t provide such an extensive hot sauce offer. “This allowed us to test new brands and products in the market, which we typically wouldn’t have had space for in the past,” he said. Longos’ pilot also features many local products—a further selling point for customers, and a great way to promote local businesses as well.

This article appeared in Canadian Grocer's May 2022 issue


This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds