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Madagascar: committing to vanilla farmers to develop a stable supply

Givaudan is committed to developing a long-term supply of vanilla in Madagascar: as a natural ingredient, it plays a starring role in many of our inspirational flavours and fragrances and is always in high demand among our customers. But the task of sourcing vanilla has become increasingly challenging, in part due to the complex supply chain and the circumstances of many local producers and their communities. Today, we believe those challenges can only be overcome if we source vanilla in a way that creates value for all.

Vanilla beans

As Jay, our Global Vanilla Programme Manager, explains, Givaudan is building a secure supply of traceable vanilla beans, in order to meet our customers’ expectations:

“We have to do it in the right way. To be sure of success we have to expand our commitment and presence in Madagascar, invest in our links with local partners, support the vanilla producers and strengthen their communities. This is what we call sourcing for shared value.”

Madagascar is the world’s largest producer of vanilla, but the crop is under pressure. A complicated supply chain and the remote nature of vanilla-producing villages all add to the difficulties of sourcing this highly prized ingredient.

“Our approach therefore was to take a substantial role in the management of the entire vanilla bean cycle, from collection to curing, preparation and export. Through a joint venture with our long-standing partner and local experts, Henri Fraise Fils et Cie, we source vanilla beans directly from thousands of smallholder producers.”

Givaudan’s role goes much further ‒ it is about building trust in Madagascar: “This is the key to securing the long-term future of vanilla. The success of our strategy rests on the human relationships we are able to foster with our suppliers and among the producer communities,” says Jay. So our teams are present throughout the year; they work closely with the producers to manage the supply, and to promote traceability of the beans and the adoption of good farming practices for certification.

Sourcing vanilla in the right way also means that we have a responsibility to contribute to the future of those communities who are engaged in our vanilla supply chain. This is an essential part of the solution to securing vanilla for the long term. Through the Givaudan Foundation we partner with a local NGO to run a rural development programme to address the wider needs of food security, health and hygiene, education and the alternative sources of income. The programme provides training in rice intensification for an average of 700 farmers every year; meanwhile an intensive effort to build schools in the villages has created the opportunity of a school place for more than 4,500 children. Better sanitation facilities have been installed, and new wells provide a reliable source of drinking water.

Eric, Givaudan’s category manager who works closely with the vanilla producers, says: “The work is always undertaken in collaboration with the villagers. The inhabitants are both beneficiaries and participants in these projects. We don’t just build schools: we involve the locals in indentifying the need and implementing the solution. It’s always a community project.” By developing trust and working in partnership with the vanilla producers we are able to source for shared value and generate benefits for our customers and all the participants in the supply chain.