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N.B. hot sauce business looks for solutions amid hot pepper shortage

Click to play video: 'Pepper and spice shortage affecting N.B. business' Pepper and spice shortage affecting N.B. business
A New Brunswick business that makes spicy sauces is finding it harder to source the special peppers they need. As Nathalie Sturgeon reports, supply challenges are proving difficult for businesses that are trying to rebound from the pandemic. – Jul 2, 2022

In order to make a hot sauce, there is a fine-tuned process that combines different spices, peppers and other flavorful ingredients.

Spicy Boys makes some of those hot sauces. One is the smoked peach sauce, a mixture of sweet and spicy.

“The base of all of our sauces is onions,” said Dylan Gaudet, the owner of Spicy Boys.

“We add in whatever spice or herb that we’re using and then we add sugars to help breakdown and caramelize the onions. We add whatever produce we’re using. Usually, after that, we use vinegar and liquids, and let things stew for a bit.”

Then the peppers — hot peppers.

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But those peppers, which include the Carolina Reaper and the Scotch Bonnet, have been hard to source amid ongoing supply chain issues and impacts of climate change in places like California.

This is the third year of a drought in California causing issues for growers there who largely supply produce for Canada and the U.S.

Some of these peppers are typically found in warmer climates within North and South America.

Smoked Peach is one of Spicy Boys most popular hot sauce but the company is having issues sourcing Scotch Bonnets — a pepper used in the sauce. Nathalie Sturgeon / Global News

“Having hot peppers as a hot sauce company is pretty integral to our success,” Gaudet said.

Gaudet said there are logistical issues especially for small business who may need to find connections that don’t exist as they do for larger companies.

“There are still a lot of kinks to work out,” he said. “Thankfully we are starting to get our legs under us. We are still struggling to find Scotch Bonnets, which is the main pepper in our most popular hot sauce, the smoked peach.”

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Gaudet said the shortage of hot peppers has forced him to cancel a few market appearances because of lack of supply. The shortage is also affecting the company’s philanthropic activities.

One sauce, Vicious Veteran, whose proceeds support Soldier On, a program of the which helps the recovery of ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces members and veterans, providing resources through sport, recreation and creative activities, is all but sold out.

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Although there are challenges, Gaudet said he hopes the bumps can be ironed out over time — hoping to avoid any price increases.

Read more: Supply chain woes threaten COVID-19 recovery for small businesses

The pepper shortage is hurting some big name brands such as the Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce produced by Huy Fong Foods. But Spice Boys are hoping to step into that breach.

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“We are happy to fill the gap,” he said in an interview on Saturday. “I think that it’s actually important for people to give us a chance, more than ever. Because if you’re a hot sauce fan, and sriracha is one of the hot sauces you use. You’re going to have to switch it up. So, why wouldn’t you switch up to a company that’s local to you, that has all the drive and motivation to really get out there and crush it?”

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