Mango chutney, condiments
Sweet fruits like mango pair well with many chiles and spices.

Opposites attract

With the sweet heat trend, it’s not just sweet, as in sugar. Rather, sauces are being formulated to have flavorful sweetness.

“This trend has been around for quite some time, but we’re seeing it combine in a more global way,” Mr. Lane said. “We’re now seeing Mexican chiles combined with agave, Indian chiles with maple syrup and Middle Eastern flavors with honey.”

Jean Heimann, culinary scientist for LifeSpice Ingredients, said, “Vinegars are being bourbon barrel aged or aged with maple to make subtle caramel notes. Floral honey, such as buckwheat, adds a characterizing molasses and slightly smoky flavor.”

Chili Rocks hot sauces, condiments
Chili Rocks offers a variety of hot sauces, including CoCo Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce.

Toasted coconut is what Geo Phelps, owner of Chili Rocks in Cincinnati, uses in his CoCo Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce. The sweetness of the coconut helps lessen the heat of habanero and ghost chiles.

All types of peppers remain popular in sauces, though regional chiles, often those that are hard to find in the mainstream supermarket, enable marketers to differentiate products beyond the hot sauce condiment.

“Aji panca from Peru, cascabel from Mexico, urfa chile from Turkey, and even the perennial Hatch green chile from New Mexico — all of these have really gained momentum this past year,” Mr. Lane said. “Each of these chiles has a unique flavor profile. Typically adding a creamy or cheesy note works well to temper their heat and allow their flavor to be appreciated. Sometimes adding a sweet note helps balance flavor, too.”

Chili sauces, condiments
Guajillo chile has dark berry notes while the aji pepper has a sweet flavor profile somewhere between a cooked mango and an apricot.

“Many of these peppers impart actual flavor rather than just heat,” added Scott Walnofer, senior director of culinary for Kerry. “Guajillo chile has dark berry notes while the aji pepper has a sweet flavor profile somewhere between a cooked mango and an apricot.”

Jerry McDonald, vice-president of culinary for MiDAS Foods International, said, “People are demanding specific chiles by name and also moving beyond the simple pairing of sweet and heat. There is great demand for depth of flavors, paired with the heat. Fermented, pickled and cured flavors can provide depth to the heat. Bright flavors, too, pair well with heat. This includes citrus, Earl Grey tea, sakura, cilantro, ginger and coriander.”