Three of the hottest chilli peppers in the world are being sold exclusively in Tesco stores, thanks to Bedfordshire grower Salvatore Genovese.
Genovese, who supplies a million chillies per week to UK retailers, has unleashed a trio of ultra-spicy peppers – the Carolina Reaper, Komodo Dragon and Armageddon – which are up to 400 times hotter than a jalapeno.
The Carolina Reaper was named the hottest chilli pepper in the world last year, measuring 1.5 million Scoville units*. Genovese's British-bred Armageddon registered 1.3m.
“These chilli peppers will be available as part of our Super Hot range, but until shoppers arrive at the store they won’t know which variety they are getting," Tesco chilli pepper buyer Emily Hampson says. "It will be a lucky dip. A word of warning though - these super strong varieites are not for beginners and we advise that only experts who know what they are doing should try them."
British consumers, though, have proven they can take the heat. Since the start of the pandemic, Tesco has seen demand for other varieties such as the Scotch Bonnet rise more than 170 per cent.
Genovese, who has been growing chilli peppers on his farm in Blunham for more than 20 years, grows around 15 tonnes a week.
“When I started growing them, no one believed that the UK would have such a great appetite for chilli peppers, particularly the really super hot ones," he says. "But we have a growing chilli culture and you only have to look online to see all the UK based chilli sauce businesses that have sprung up in recent years.
“Last year I grew the Armageddon, which is the hottest ever British bred commercially grown chilli pepper. Now, I want to go one better and commercially grow a chilli bred in Britain that will outdo the notorious Carolina Reaper.”
The chillies cost £1 a packet and will contain up to three chilli peppers depending on the size.
*Chill pepper heat is measured by the Scoville Heat Unit, a system created by American chemist Wilbur Scoville in 1908.