Dozens of entrepreneurial hot sauce bottles line up on a typical grocery store shelf, but only two or three boast significant market share. Tops among them is Tabasco, which has been made by the McIlhenny Company out of Avery Island, La., since 1868. The company, still family-run and privately held, won’t disclose its financials, but analysts estimate that the iconic brand — which supplies countless bars, first-class airline cabins and the U.S. military with bottles of its red sauce — owns about 20%-25% of the market.
McIlhenny, which grows its peppers all over the western hemisphere, sells six flavors of Tabasco, but none come close the numbers of its bestseller, the original red. International business comprises 40% of the company’s overall sales. Up next: Expansion into emerging markets like Brazil, China, and Eastern Europe.