Hot sauce lovers have been burned after one of the world's largest chilli sauce makers suspended production but an Illawarra chilli business is hoping chilli lovers will turn to locally produced hot sauce instead.
Drought has forced the US-based Huy Fong Foods to pause producing its iconic spicy sauces - Sriracha, Chilli Garlic and Sambal Oelek - due to a lack of chilli peppers.
Michelle Walsh, owner of The Chilli Project at Helensburgh, said empty supermarket condiment shelves would give local producers the opportunity to "shine".
"I think Australia has some of the best hot sauces in the world," Ms Walsh said.
"It would be great for everyone to swap a bottle of imported hot sauce for Australian hot sauce."
The Chilli Project was established five years ago after Ms Watson created the formula for her Signature Blend Hot Sauce.
"When I would produce a batch I would have endless requests from friends and family to fill jars," Ms Walsh said.
Now, the business supplies 30 retail stores across Australia with fiery hot sauce, beef jerky and spice rubs - all made from Australian grown chillies.
"We would love to get our sauces into more Illawarra shops and local businesses," Ms Walsh said.
Huy Fong Foods, a long-time competitor of The Chilli Project, uses a specifically grown jalapeno hybrid as its point of difference.
Ms Walsh explained the chilli fruit of the jalapeno hybrid is heavier than a lot of other peppers and needs extra water.
"They use their own jalapeno hybrid and they require a lot of water to produce the fruit," Mrs Walsh said.
"Due to the weight of them, their chillies would require a lot of water. Drought will shrivel the fruit."
While drought is impacting chilli farmers on one side of the world, floods are impacting farmers on the other.
The Chilli Project collects almost all of its chilli peppers from farms in Queensland, Victoria and NSW's East Coast.
During the recent floods, excessive wet conditions ruined crops and chilli fruit became rare.
"There have been challenges, most recently with the Queensland floods, chillies have been in hot demand," she said.
"We had a lot of growers with wiped out fields."
For Ms Walsh, the looming shortage of Sriracha offers a glimpse of hope that Illawarra residents with give her local hot sauce a red, hot go.
"I'm hoping for a positive impact," she said. "We would love to be in more homes around the Illawarra."
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