For people all over the world, vanilla elicits emotional connections and memories. From the delicious indulgence of a favorite chocolate bar to the scent of freshly washed laundry, the appeal of vanilla is universal. In total, there are around 18,000 products that use vanilla globally, making it a global favorite with demand as high as ever as the world’s number one flavor direction; the U.S. alone consumes 50% of vanilla produced each year.
For Symrise Flavor North America, vanilla is one of our expertises, and we take great pride in our approach to supplying our customers with the highest quality vanilla taste there is. This pride runs deep, starting over a century ago and evolving into an obsession with excellence, sustainability and community, and innovation.
Our Vanilla Origin Story
Vanilla has formed the heart of Symrise from the very beginning. Over 140 years ago in 1874, our founders were the first to synthesize vanillin and pioneer the world of vanilla with a passion that continues as strong as ever today. Moving from synthetic vanillin then to sustainable vanilla today, Symrise again pioneers/sets milestones in vanilla. Today, creating vanilla extracts and natural vanilla flavors with rich taste profiles require the perfect balance.
Our master flavorists and expert extractors carry this tradition of excellence and passion for the Queen of Spices, using their specialist insight to tailor-make precise extracts matching the desires of our customers no matter the complexity of and demand for present and future needs. This demand fuels and inspires our team to keep building our expertise, our knowledge and our ability to create products that fit any brief to ensure we can stay one step ahead, and give our customers, and everyone we work with, the best possible solutions. Thus, we ensure we can stay one step ahead, and give our customers, and everyone we work with, the best possible solutions. With our strong heritage in vanilla, we continue our commitment and continue to invest in strengthening vanilla as a core competence, as it continues as a favorite for consumers around the world.. And why do we care so passionately about vanilla?
“There is a magic to vanilla,” says Yannick Leen, Global Competence Director Vanilla. “Made up of over 400 flavoring substances, and demanding hand-pollination, it’s subtle, complex and requires skill and passion to create the distinctive vanilla scents and flavors we all love.”
Taste and scent are personal. For this reason, creating the flavors and tastes people love, today and in the future, is so important. Sweet, smoky, nutty, rummy… natural vanilla is a stunningly complex spice with an expansive range of different flavor components. With our extracts, we capture this complexity and pinpoint individual notes.
A Commitment to Sustainability
Our century-long commitment to crafting precise vanilla extracts goes hand in hand with the passion of Symrise for sustainability and commitment to Madagascar. The far-away island actually produces four-fifths of the world’s vanilla harvest every year. This makes it the heart of global vanilla production and an obvious choice for Symrise to partner with in order to deliver extracts unparalleled in quality. In 2006, we became the first flavor and fragrance company to have its own operations in Madagascar.
We continue to lead the way by running our own production and quality control onsite, 365 days a year. Our unique presence allows us to bring our customers and consumers closest to the source. We ensure transparency and high quality of our products along the entire chain of production while bringing shared value to our partnering farmers.
“Our involvement in Madagascar and our sustainable supply chain forms one of four keystones of our vanilla competency,” says Leen. “When you combine this sustainable, controlled supply with our extensive research and understanding of what consumers want, our creative potential and excellence, and our ability to adapt to developments and market requirements, we have found the formula for delivering what our customers need and what their consumers want.”
The process takes a lot of thorough work and a lot of hands to get it done. Farmers have to pollinate 600 blossoms by hand to produce 6 kg of green beans, which then produces 1 kg of black beans. From those black beans, we produce 10 liters of concentrated vanilla extract. Symrise works with over 7,000 farmers across the SAVA region of Madagascar in order to sustainably source this vanilla while ensuring traceability and premium quality. We make sure that our partnering farmers have access to education and get trained on sustainable farming practices, and soil and slope management so that they can get the best out of their vanilla farming activities by improving yields and quality right at the source.
Our flavorists and experts work hand-in-hand with farmers in Madagascar to bring the distinctive flavor of this global favorite to people worldwide. Through business schools and healthcare programs set up for the farmers and their families, we are creating amazing flavors together and also sustainable communities. As many Malagasy people face the challenges of poverty, and while our vanilla farmers face the same challenges. Our efforts help them improve their lives and enable local people to create more prosperous, sustainable communities. To this effect, we also encourage and support farmers to grow a variety of crops including cocoa, cloves, cinnamon, pepper and vetiver. Grown on the same plots as vanilla, these crops provide extra income, avoid deforestation and help keep the forests intact and flourishing.
“Our commitment to vanilla runs throughout the whole company,” explains Carol McBride, Sr. Director, of our Sweet Business Unit. “We need to cover the entire global demand, and that is why we are investing in both our natural vanilla sustainable supply chain in Madagascar, and our synthetic vanillin capabilities. A wide-ranging raw material portfolio is essential when it comes to meeting ever increasing, and changing, consumer preferences.”
With our communities of farmers thriving and our experts’ passion ever-growing for creating category-leading extracts and flavor solutions, we’re proud to continue pioneering the vanilla space in order to deliver successful solutions that meet the growing demands of our global customers and consumers. While we proudly look back on over a century into our journey, our story with vanilla is just beginning.
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