Hot sauce production is among the fastest-growing industries, according to IBISWorld

Bottles of Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce move through a conveyor belt. Hot sauce is among the fastest-growing industries outpacing the economic recovery, according to IBISWorld. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times / April 18, 2012)

Smartphones, burgers and oil wells may be big moneymakers, but they can’t compete when it comes to speed of expansion. The fastest-growing industries in the U.S. actually involve 3-D printers, solar panels, self-tanning products, Pilates and yogastudios and hot sauce.

So says a new report from research group IBISWorld, which measured industries based on their contributions to the economy, revenue growth and expected future performance.

In a season of rising gas prices, consumers and businesses are increasingly feeling the strain of dependence on fossil fuel. That’s why, according to IBISWorld, so-called “green” industries are doing so well.

Solar panel makers such as SunPower Inc. have seen revenue grow an average of 3.3% a year from 2002 to 2012, due in large part to substantial government subsidies and falling silicon prices, which have allowed more competition with cheaper foreign panels.

Solar panel sales are expected to grow 9.4% this year and then 8.2% each year in the future, according to IBISWorld.

Eco-friendly, sustainable construction companies are also on a tear, with annual revenue increases of 28.9% since 2002 and an 18.3% boost expected this year. Governments have begun implementing more building codes that mandate energy-efficient designs; building owners are finding that green certification earns their structures more acclaim.

The industry is expected to grow 22.8% a year going forward, eventually making nearly $287.8 billion in revenue by 2017.

Growing consumer concern over health has heralded the rise of self-tanning product makers and yoga and Pilates studios.

Worries about UV ray exposure and skin cancer have frightened some clients away from tanning beds, helping companies that promise a more natural glow boost revenue about 22.7% a year. A burgeoning focus on fitness – which has also recently advanced the fortunes of programs such as P90X and CrossFit – has helped yoga and Pilates establishment resist the recession and grow 12.1% annually.

Technological advances also played heavily on IBISWorld’s list. The presence of more retailers online – many now armed with virtual dressing rooms and “try-on” systems – enhanced Web sales of eyeglasses and contacts 28.2% a year on average. Major players include Walgreen Co. and 1-800-Contacts.com.

And as consumers find more uses for 3-D printers – They make planes! They make food! They make toys for Jay Leno! – the industry is expected to grow 20.3% this year. By 2017, revenue is expected to double to nearly $3.3 billion.

Several other industries are also outpacing the general economy. But our personal favorite is really spicing things up. As international influences creep into American cooking, ethnic supermarkets expand into more neighborhoods and foodies scramble for ever-more exotic tastes, hot sauce sales are smoking. Revenue in 2012 is expected to come in at just under $1.1 billion – by 2017, it’ll be $1.3 billion, according to IBISWorld.

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