Yucatán’s habanero peppers finally get certification of origin

Habeneros from Yucatán will be specially labeled. Photo: Getty
Habeneros from Yucatán will be specially labeled. Photo: Getty

Florida oranges. Idaho potatoes. And now, habaneros from Yucatán.

Yucatán’s most famous cash crop will be accredited, the result of just over a decade of work and promotion.

The label will benefit producers from Yucatán, Campeche and Quintana Roo by ensuring that the only Mexican habaneros exported are from the Peninsula.

Yucatán is the world’s largest producer of the habanero, and the pepper is an integral part of Yucatecan food. It competes with farms in Belize, Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, and parts of the United States, including Texas, Idaho and California.

The Peninsula’s combination of the alkaline soil, limestone and hot sun make it a perfect place to grow habaneros. The peppers are grown by small milpas, or small farms run by Mayan families.

Habanero seeds have been traced back as far as 6500 BC.

The habanero chili pepper of Yucatán will be promoted in 70 countries, said José Manuel López Campos, leader of the Confederation of National Chambers of Commerce, Services and Tourism (Concanaco). The Mexican Accreditation Entity (EMA) will present the official certification of origin at a ceremony today in Mexico City.

The habanero was listed by Guinness World Records as the world’s hottest chili in 1999, but it has since been displaced by other peppers.

Lopez Campos hailed the move, which sets Yucatecan habaneros apart from others.

With the certificate of the EMA, producers seek to attract investment on the Peninsula and strengthen the brand in the world market.

Other products that will receive their certification of origin today are the mango Ataulfo ​​del Soconusco of Chiapas; vanilla Papantla; Charanda liquor of Michoacán; and Bacanora, distilled from Sonora and Sotol, an alcoholic beverage from Chihuahua, Coahuila and Durango.

Representatives of the Yucatecan government and local companies will be present at the ceremony. The head of the Secretariat of Tourism of Mexico, Enrique de la Madrid Cordero, will also attend the event.

A habanero pepper route — linking producers to tourists — is also being promoted in Yucatán, and in Guadalajara, a tequila route has been established.

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