Farmer raises concerns over authenticity process for New Mexico green chile

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Glen Duggins is the President of the New Mexico Chile Association.

“It’s what we’re number one in a state that’s at the bottom of the bucket in everything else. We are number one in chile; it means to us like turkey on Thanksgiving,” he said.

They offer their own certification to mark your chile as “New Mexico Certified Chile,” but statewide, it’s not required to do so.

“They don’t inspect anybody, and they get Mexican chile, put it in a box, a bag, plaster all that New Mexico pride in there all over it. It’s not a New Mexican product,” Duggins said.

The New Mexico Chile Association has a rigorous process to certify their member’s chile.

“We go to farms, and physically inspect the farms to make sure they’re New Mexican chili product. And then we give them a label they can apply to their product, and guaranteeing you the people that it is New Mexican chile,” he said.

According to a study done by ProducePay, Mexico exported over a million tons of chile in 2020, and it was the leading supplier of chile to the U.S. that year. 

Chile, red or green, is a million-dollar industry in New Mexico.

A report by the USDA in 2021 said the state raked in $45 million in chile production, but that same report shows a 22% decrease in production from 2020 to 2021.  

Duggins said he’s personally seen the decline long before that for several reasons.

“The stores have used chili because it’s so popular as a loss leader, they would actually sell it and roasted for cheaper than I sold it to him for, but that drove all the mom and pops out of business,” he said, also citing labor shortages.

Inflation has caused farmers to increase their sales costs leaving consumers to have to decide, do they want to shell out the green for the real deal, or save and buy product from Mexico?   

For more information on the New Mexico Chile Association you can click here