The much anticipated Hatch Chile season has begun in New Mexico. After a slightly delayed start due to weather conditions, supplies remain tight as growers continue to build volume. This is especially so in this early stage of the season when much of the volume is coming from transplants. Customers can expect more Hatch Chiles to become available over the next couple of weeks.
"We have been shipping the last few weeks but availability is still very limited," shared Preston Mitchell of Hatch Green Chile. "Volume should pick up once directly sown product starts coming through. However, we expect that volume - especially for the fresh market - will remain tight throughout the season. At this point, we are struggling to fill orders for both processors and retailers due to extremely strong demand."
He added that the season typically goes until the start of October. "We normally start from July 15 and go through October 1 or so, depending on the first frost. We are hoping to finish a little later this year as the start had been slightly delayed."
Preston Mitchell (right) and wife Elaine, with Sean Harris in the Hatch Chile field.
As Mitchell noted, demand for Hatch Chiles is increasing. Whereas the regional specialty used to be for the most part confined to the Southwest region of the United States, growers say demand is now reaching across the country and beyond. Much of this is driven by food trends, with consumers more willing to trial new ingredients in their meals. Additionally, food processors are also increasing their usage of Hatch Chile.
"The Hatch name has become very well known," Mitchell observed. "10 - 15 years ago, we rarely marketed Hatch Chiles outside of the Southwest region, but now consumers across the country and even overseas have become more familiar with Hatch Chiles and demand has increased substantially. We don't see it slowing down either!"
"On the manufacturing front, we are seeing Hatch Chiles being introduced in many dishes as well as being used in more processed and frozen foods," he added.
The Hatch Green Chile company has also introduced new packing options with the intention of increasing options for retailers, especially those looking to entice new customers. "We started offering random weight bags in the order of 1.5lb - 2lb," Mitchell said. "New retail customers tend to start small and with these packs, they are better able to track movement through the store and also attract new buyers. We also offer 25lb bulk cases as well as 10lb retail boxes for consumers looking to buy a lot of Hatch Chiles with the purpose of drying and roasting them."
Region provides uniqueness of Hatch Chile
What is so special about Hatch Chile? As it turns out, the variety does grow in other regions, but only those grown in the vicinity of Hatch, New Mexico, can be called a Hatch Chile. Suppliers say the region hosts a unique climate which gives the Hatch Chile its unique characteristics.
"Much like Vidalia onions that are only grown in Vidalia, only the ones grown in Hatch can be known as Hatch Chiles," Mitchell explained. "This region provides a unique environment that distinguishes the Hatch from other chili varieties. The soil, elevation and climate all work together to give Hatch Chiles their unique flavor profile."
For more information:
Hatch Green Chile
Ph: +1 (575) 635-4680