SHANGHAI, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) -- About 400 years after chilies entered China via the ancient Silk Road trade routes, the homeland of the spice is again knocking on the door of the Chinese market that is now addicted to the hot delight.
At the ongoing second China International Import Expo (CIIE), Mexican chili companies have attracted a stream of buyers and visitors.
Iriarte Flores, general manager of the Mexican firm La Guacamaya, is at the CIIE for the second time. His company has been using local chilies to produce sauces for 70 years.
"This is a market of huge potential," Flores said. "Many visitors showed interest. I am confident that we will find good partners to market our products in China."
Casa Martinez is a family enterprise from north Mexico. Adriana G. Martinez, the company's 32-year-old president, has sensed the opportunity provided by the increasing popularity of Mexican cuisine in China.
"I have learnt that there are more and more Mexican restaurants in China. Our company could be a suitable supplier of chili sauce for them," she said.
Mexico has been one of the world's largest chili consuming markets and a major exporter, known for the rich variety of chilies, including one of the world's hottest chilies named habanero.
Besides chili sauce makers, chili powder firms are also adding flavor in this campaign into China.
"We hope to use the CIIE as a gateway to explore more Asian markets," said Isabel Plascencia, sales director of Teconichis from the State of Chihuahua in north Mexico. The company has begun to supply Mexican chili powder to kimchi companies in the Republic of Korea.
With China being a major chili grower and exporter itself, the Chinese market has already been competitive, not to mention other exporters eager to join the game.
The Municipality of Chongqing, known for spicy hot pots, installed a huge hot pot, 10 meters in diameter, at this year's expo, which allows more than 50 people to eat together. The chilies used in the hot pot was from India.
Yang Peng, a buyer from central China's Henan Province, tried the Mexican green chili sauce. "It tastes nice but as a chili lover I would like it hotter," he said.
Most Mexican firms agreed that their products may need adjustment after they have a better understanding of Chinese consumers.
"No matter what, the Chinese market is unimaginably big. We have to come and see," said Alejandro Contreras, a Mexican chili powder dealer.