Inside Look Into Underwood Ranches' Farming Operations and Sriracha Exclusive Partnership
CAMARILLO, CA - With the overwhelming popularity of Huy Fong Foods’ Sriracha Asian hot sauce continuing to grow, Underwood Ranches is experiencing the demand for increased volumes of the company’s California grown jalapeños peppers. Underwood Ranches, based in Camarillo, California, is the exclusive supplier of jalapeños for Huy Fong’s spicy sensation.
About 25 years ago, Owner Craig Underwood, called up Huy Fong’s CEO David Tran and asked him if he needed jalapeños peppers for his line of hot sauce recipes. And the rest is history.
With 58,000 tons of the popular pepper making its way to Huy Fong’s 650,000 sq. ft. Irwindale, California facility, Underwood Ranches is noting incredible growth for the company’s pepper operations.
“This year, in Kern County alone, we grew 17,000 tons of jalapeños peppers. 4 years ago that was our total volume grown at all of our farming operations,” Craig tells me.
How has this popular chili sauce experienced such growth over the past ten years? “Its really hard to say,” Craig tells me. “Foodies have really begun to gravitate toward the product. It’s versatile, flavorful and offers just enough heat to take a meal up a notch.”
He tells me, “Sometimes it takes a while for something to reach a critical mass. David has been using the same recipe since he started producing Sriracha and he has also never marketed it. David's recipe really encapsulates his business philosophy and goals with the product - freshness, quality, and low price.”
According to Quartz.com, as of January 2014, the US hot sauce market has grown by 150% since 2000. This growth is more than that of BBQ sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard—combined.
As ethnic populations continue to grow in North America and the demand for Sriracha's distinct and versatile flavor profile continues to catch fire, there appears to be no end in sight for Huy Fong and Underwood Ranches.
Underwood currently farms 2,000 acres of jalapeños in Ventura and Kern counties. Craig is the fourth generation Owner of the family-run business with COO Jim Roberts at his side, managing and enhancing the company’s technological innovations in sorting and picking the peppers.
“Every year, Jim is finding ways to perfect and streamline our processes and procedures,” Craig tells me. Underwood Ranches’ portfolio also includes produce items such as artichokes, Brussels sprouts, beets, carrots and baby veg.
With the Sriracha phenomenon spurring the rapid growth of Underwood’s jalapeños operations over the past few years, the company is now looking to stabilize its program over the next couple seasons. Underwood will wrap up harvest in the first part of November with replanting slated for mid-March to mid-June with the next harvest kicking off next July.
“I am a Sriracha lover myself,” Craig notes. “So, I am behind our partnership with David and Huy Fong 100%.”
When I ask him if he sees the Sriracha craze slowing, he smiles. I think I have my answer.