Chili peppers are the second-most-cultivated vegetable in Mexico, behind tomatoes. The crop is enormously important to the country’s culinary culture and is an integral part of most Mexicans’ diet, as demonstrated by the 16.9 kg annual per capita consumption.
Additionally, it’s a crop of massive economic importance, accounting for 20.6% of national vegetable production.
In 2019, production was 4.7% lower than in 2018, but in 2020 there was an increase of 3.7%, for a total production of 2,818,443 tons, close to the historical peak of 2,850,427 tons in 2018.
Production by state
In 2020, all 32 federal entities reported chili pepper production, but only 8 produced more than 100,000 tons: Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Zacatecas, Sonora, Jalisco, San Luis Potosí, Michoacán, and Guanajuato.
Chihuahua and Sinaloa unquestionably led Mexican chili pepper production, with 675,131 tons and 648,222 tons, or 24.0% and 23.0%, respectively. Zacatecas, in the third position, produced only 8.1%, or 228,933 tons.
It’s interesting to note that Zacatecas was the state with the largest harvest area at 27,026 ha, but it came in third in terms of production due to its low average yield, at 6.2 t/ha, as compared to Chihuahua and Sinaloa at 22.4 t/ha and 45.0 t/ha, respectively.
In terms of yield, Querétaro holds the top position with 54.3 t/ha, a figure made possible by the fact that the entirety of its harvested area (802 ha) was in high-tech greenhouses. Coahuila’s 431 ha were similarly managed for the second-highest yield at 53.0 t/ha.
Regarding production value, Sinaloa, with 8,320 million Mexican pesos (mdp) surpassed Chihuahua (at 5,011 MDP) with an average price of MXN $12,835/t, which is 72.9% higher than the MXN $7,422/t average in Chihuahua.
The 10 states with the highest production of chili peppers in 2020
|State||Production (t)||Harvested area (ha)||Average yield(t/ha)||Average price ($/t)||Production value (mdp)|
|San Luis Potosí||144,207||24,453||5.9||26,378||3,804|
|Baja California Sur||79,651||1,634||48.8||10,825||862|
Production by municipality
In 2020, 472 municipalities (19.3%) reported chili pepper production. Of these, only 3 produced more than 100,000 tons of chili peppers: Fresnillo, Escuinapa, and Culiacán, which together represented 15.4% of national production.
Fresnillo led national production with the second-largest harvested area, at 14,083 ha. While Villa de Ramos had the largest harvested area, its low yield of 2.1 t/ha meant that it was not among the 10 top producers. Similarly, Villa de Cos had the third-largest harvested area at 7,521 ha, but the municipality did not appear among the top producers due to its low yield of 1.5 t/ha.
Galeana held the top position in terms of yield, with 268.9 t/ha, followed by Huimilpan and Querétaro, with 225.1 t/ha and 220.5 t/ha, respectively. It is important to note that the 20 municipalities with the top average yield harvested less than 1,000 ha, but obtained excellent yields due to high-tech greenhouses.
Lastly, Escuinapa beat Fresnillo in production value generated, with 2,345 mdp and 2,008 mdp, respectively, due to a 30.3% higher average price per ton.
The 10 municipalities with highest chili pepper production in 2020
|Municipality||Production (t)||Harvested area (ha)||Average yield(t/ha)||Average price ($/t)||Production value (mdp)|
Chili pepper production zones in Mexico
The chili pepper is a native crop to the tropical regions of America. Mexico is the center of cultivation and where the greatest diversity is found— and it’s important to note that this crop includes many different types and varieties.
The chili pepper has adapted to various climates and soils, which has been a major factor in its success. It can be grown in tropical, subtropical, and temperate climates, and it is cultivated from sea level up to 2,500 meters of altitude.
In this context, Mexico can be divided into 6 chili pepper production zones, classified according to the main types of chili peppers that are grown:
- Gulf (Veracruz and Tamaulipas), jalapeño and serrano
- South (Yucatán and Tabasco), jalapeño, costero, and habanero
- Bajío (Guanajuato, Jalisco and Michoacán), ancho, mulato and pasilla
- Mesa Central (Puebla and Hidalgo), poblano, miahuateco and carricillo
- North (Chihuahua and Zacatecas), jalapeño, mirasol and ancho
- North Pacific (Baja California, Sinaloa and Sonora), bell, anaheim, jalapeño and Caribbean
As we can see, each production zone is important, with a focus on specific types and varieties. This diversity makes Mexico a global leader in chili pepper production, second only to India in terms of production worldwide.
SADER-SIAP. Cierre agrícola 2020
SADER-SIAP. Panorama Agroalimentario 2020
Revista Ciencia. El chile como alimento