[CH] We like to say inexpensive

Sat, 6 Jun 1998 08:17:22 EDT

 Dear CHers
    I have been most intrigued with the contributions about cheap hot sauces
and reasons for buying products. The subject is near and dear to my heart and
my wallet. From the time the peppers, etc., are born till the sauce arrives in
your mouth many things happen. There are variations in each of the factors as
well. A partial list would at least include
1. Cost of ingredients   This can vary due to the actual ingredients,time of
year,volume of purchase, ease of preparation etc. Major producers buy
ingredients at very advantageous pricing. For a home /small producer vinegar
is easily somewhere in excess of $1 per gallon
The big guys costs can be as low as .23. Work your way through the ingredients
and do some math.
2. Bottles  or as they say in the biz "glass"  again bigness brings huge
economy of scale with the big guys landing bottles for maybe 1/4 of what mom
and pop can.
3. Lablels can be the most expensive item of the whole experience. After the
design and perhaps a die design and construction. the cost for the individual
labels are very low. The cost is heavily load to the front end. All the front
end costs have to be prorated onto the individual bottle
4. Manufacturing expenses can vary substantially as well. Major manufacturers
have fillers that can handle production at speeds in excess of 200 bottles per
MINUTE. Tough to do in a small kitchen.
5 Permitting fees and laboratory fees for licensing and food safety add
significantly to the costs
6. Cardboard boxes and shipping materials
7. Distribution costs 
8. Advertising  local and perhaps national

        I am truly amazed that hot sauce and other food products are so
inexpensive in the US. I believe that there is a place for all levels of hot
sauces in the market place. Inexpensive does not mean bad and pricey does not
mean good.
      When making a decision let it be an informed one. Understand that the
bottles that sit next to each other on the shelf have arrived there along very
different paths. When you go to a chain store and ask for hot sauce they
usually say aisle 7. When you go to a specialty store(a good one) they will be
able to help you heat levels, ingredients, uses, if you like that one you will
probably like this one recommendations. In many cases the proprietor will know
the people who produce the sauces and how they got started in the biz. Imagine
going into "Mega Mall Foods" and asking to try several sauces off the shelf
and then ask how long have they been in biz and did you see them at the fiery
food show this year? The phrase blank look pops to mind.
    The factors and issues involved are not as simple as it seems. Take time
to make an informed decision. Passion is involved as well. It may sound a
little hokey but I get a real charge when I reunint a sauce aficionado with a
favorite product. Twice it has taken me in excess of a year to run down a
product for a customer. (turtles go slow)  In both cases it was as if I had
located a long lost sibling for the people.
    This has been an overlong response  but it has been fermenting in my soul
for a while
I guess this is the mini course in economic on cost versus value
    Part of the question is do you want to support someone who against all
odds has campaigned a strawberry habanero sauce  or a rich flavorful
handcrafted sumptuous chipotle elixir or the product of a large corp that the
marketing guys have told the production guys that hot is hot and lets make
40,000 cases and see what happens.
     Well, enough of revolutionary musings   time for a guacamole and crabmeat
omelet  topped with the magic of  a thick chipotle sauce    life is good