Waitrose pepper Hitchin’s ‘Chilli Ben’ with support

Ben Jackson

Ben Jackson - Credit: Archant

A Hitchin man with a passion for chilli peppers who started his company with a £500 loan is celebrating after a national supermarket chose to stock his products in their stores across the country.

Ben Jackson

Ben Jackson - Credit: Archant

Ben Jackson, owner and founder of Capsicana, will see his Latin American-based chilli recipe kits stocked in top retailer Waitrose in 265 of its 340 national stores – including Hitchin’s branch in Bedford Road.

Successful Ben, who once sold his chilli sauces, powders and recipe kits at Hitchin’s market – with his worst day’s trading seeing him sell £8 worth of stock – will see his products become a nationwide brand.

A former consultant, Ben has always had a passion for chillies since spending time with his dad in Texas as a teen. Eventually he followed his dream by making his love of chillies become his profession – and is now reaping the benefits of his gamble – and years of hard work.

He told the Comet: “Before the meeting with Waitrose I was nervous like you wouldn’t believe. I almost crashed the car on the way there!

“As far as I was concerned it was make or break for me.

“The funniest part was when I went into presentation mode straight away like I was fighting for my life – before the buyer basically said to me: ‘I’ve tried all of the products and I think they’re amazing. My favourite is the Brazilian Chilli and Coconut’.

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“After that I felt more relaxed and we then discussed my product development plans and my vision for the brand.”

The pathway to Waitrose for Ben was getting a listing with Whole Foods – a company stocking the finest natural and organic foods available.

Ben adds: “This was probably the best listing you can get for your product to be seen as credible by a major supermarket.

“But I haven’t done this alone.

“I’ve had support from advisers helping me make try to make Capsicana the UK’s number one Latin American food brand.”