Mexico dominates chili imports into the U.S. with 81 percent of the market. A New Mexico State University agricultural economist says from 1995 to 2004 China's chili imports grew fivefold and dried and ground chili imported from India tripled.
To compete with the cheaper imports, the University says mechanization could be New Mexico's only line of defense. Machine harvesting could reduce production costs and concerns related to labor.
New Mexico leads the nation in chili production, growing 60% of the nation's crop, but acreage has fallen from 34,000 acres in 1992 to around 15,400 acres in 2004.