Chillies are now known to have been used by Native Americans as far back as 7500 BC, where evidence of their use has been found in archaeological digs in the Central American area.
With the arrival of Columbus in the 15th century, chillies made their way back to Europe, but it was the Portuguese who were responsible for their rapid spread across the world. They introduced them to their extensive trading networks in the 16th century, first to West Africa, then onto India, and from there along the Silk Road into Thailand, China and onwards.
They are now eaten daily by over 25% of the world population, making them the world’s most popular spice! They have become ubiquitous with many national cuisines across the globe, and have turned into a $5 billion industry.
The biggest producers in the world are China, followed by Mexico and Turkey.