Consumers the world over love vanilla in their ice creams and in hundreds of other food and beverage products. Although we’re familiar with the phrase ‘plain vanilla’, there’s nothing plain or simple about farming the orchids of the genus vanilla, wherein lies the rich, sweet flavour: growing and curing vanilla is a complex process that takes time, effort and expertise and is limited to a few, very specific, geographies of the world.
Madagascar with heart and soul
For decades, Givaudan has worked directly in the field with the farmers who supply the globe with the finest quality vanilla. Today, as one of the largest suppliers of vanilla, we are committed to supporting vanilla communities through our extensive sustainable sourcing initiatives.
Givaudan sources vanilla from selected villages in Madagascar, where about 80% of the world’s vanilla is grown. We partner with Malagasy vanilla farmers to improve the yield and quality of their vanilla crop. Not only does sourcing vanilla in this way help secure future supplies, but the use of designated areas has also secured a sound supply of traceable and certified vanilla.
The close relationship that Givaudan has established in the local communities ensures a constant supply of quality vanilla so consumers can enjoy sustainable vanilla flavours in their favourite foods and beverages.
The initiative also helps producers in a number of ways, the first being food security. Our rice intensification production programme enables more than one thousand farmers to double, or even triple, the amount of rice they can harvest every year.
The second element is education. Through improving the local educational infrastructure by building schools, we can directly help children successfully prepare for adulthood. In addition to building schools, we also supply furniture and educational materials; we are committed to an ongoing investment in this area. To date, we have been involved in the construction or repair and maintenance of 24 schools.
The programme also promotes alternative revenue streams, such as beekeeping, livestock and fishery, and helps provide better access to water. Vanilla is the world’s favourite flavour and our programme in Madagascar is a perfect example of creating mutual benefits: what’s good for our business is also good for the local farmers and the extended community.
Traceable, certified vanilla
Working in partnership with local growers of certified organic vanilla offers us complete control over the growing, harvesting and curing of the vanilla. Certified farmers have the security of knowing that they have a guaranteed market for their product. They and their families also benefit from a rural development programme. When the programme began in 2010, we initially worked with 14 villages that depend upon on vanilla production for their livelihood. Since then, this figure has increased to 32 villages, representing some 3,000 organic vanilla farmers in total.
Knowledge through experience
As is the case with most great complexities, extensive experience builds knowledge and expertise. At Givaudan, vanilla is part of our DNA – in fact it has been one of our core areas of focus for over 100 years. Throughout that time we have developed a deep understanding of all aspects of vanilla: extracts and supply; flavour creation; regulations in all markets of the world; labelling and declarations, to name a few. All of this is driven by world class consumer insights and sensory programmes. Whatever the need, if it relates to vanilla, Givaudan’s knowledge, capabilities and supply chain can be your asset.
More about vanilla