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Bloomberg has a story about how Sriracha pioneer Huy Fong Foods, which controls almost 10 percent of the $1.55 billion American hot-sauce market, is about to face some new competition - from a brand called Sriraja Panich.

There are some differences between the two companies, according to the story:

“The Huy Fong factory in Irwindale, California, about 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, is a pristine facility with silver conveyor belts that each day shuttle hundreds of thousands of bright red bottles of Sriracha and their distinctive green caps into cardboard boxes. The factory, which operates up to 16 hours a day most days of the week, uses 100 million pounds of chilies each year. That’s enough spice to irritate the senses of some Irwindale neighbors.”

In addition, Huy Fong’s Sriracha “uses fresh red jalapeños from across the U.S.”

Here’s how Bloomberg describes Sriraja Panich:

“More than 8,000 miles away in a suburb of Bangkok, factory workers toil without air conditioning as forklifts roll through 90-degree heat hauling boxes of the same kind of chili sauce—this one with a red and yellow label and called Sriraja Panich. Most Americans haven’t heard of the Thai brand, which claims to be the original Sriracha recipe, and that’s something the family behind the sauce is hoping to change … the less viscous Sriraja Panich uses cayenne peppers from northern and central Thailand.”
KC's View:
It is extraordinary the degree to which Sriracha has insinuated itself into so many people’s food lives, and all through word of mouth, since Huy Fong, as I understand it, has never taken out a consumer ad. Ever.

I don’t know about you, but it is a huge part of how I cook and eat at home … and while I am willing to try the new version, I kind of like the uniquely American story of the original - a Vietnamese refugee comes to the states, starts a business, and grows it to unimaginable heights while being unwilling to sell it to the behemoths that would like to acquire it.