What are the uses of natural vanilla?
Natural vanilla is one of the most sought-after aromas in the world for its intense and sweet fragrance. Vanilla is used in cooking, as much for savory dishes as for sweet ones. In addition to individuals, many professionals also use natural vanilla flavoring. The food industry is the most important consumer of vanilla. The world production of vanilla is not able to cover the increasing demand for vanilla beans and derived products. Madagascar vanilla is a high-end product that is generally intended for the food industry and also for private use. Other vanillas are more accessible except that the quality is not the same.
What is natural vanilla?
Vanilla is a pod of a tropical liana orchid whose fruit is edible. Vanilla is native to Central America, mainly Brazil. The shape and length of the pods vary depending on the variety of vanilla. There are several varieties of vanilla, but only Vanilla planifolia, Vanilla tahitensis and Vanilla pompona are cultivated commercially as Black Vanilla Non Split. When talking about natural vanilla, the variety Vanilla planifolia comes to mind. This variety represents the majority of the world’s vanilla production. Each of the three varieties has specific taste and aroma properties. Hybrid varieties are developed from Vanilla planifolia to obtain better quality, more aromatic and more beautiful varieties.
What is the origin of Black Vanilla?
Natural vanilla originated in Mexico, but is currently found in the undergrowth of tropical and equatorial areas. The Aztecs have long used vanilla to flavor infusions. They managed to prepare the vanilla pods in order to develop its aromatic power. Remember that the pods do not develop aroma that after their preparation, the green pods are odorless. In its country of origin, vanilla was once called Tlilxochill or black pod. After the discovery of the New World, the Spanish and Portuguese traded vanilla. They introduced vanilla to Europe in 1510, but in France, the discovery of this aromatic bean came much later, around 1604.
At that time, the use of natural vanilla was reserved for the court. It was used to perfume the coffee and chocolate of the King of France and his entourage. The aromatic power of vanilla then gradually spread to high society. The demand exploded and the royalty decided to cultivate vanilla. This marked the beginning of vanilla cultivation around the world. In the Indian Ocean islands, vanilla was grown on the island of Reunion. But the harvest was random, even non-existent, before the discovery of the technique of hand pollination of vanilla flowers in the 19th century. This discovery triggered the intensification of vanilla cultivation and the vanilla trade worldwide. The cultivation of vanilla in Reunion Island spread to neighboring islands before spreading to different tropical regions of the world.
Where is vanilla grown?
Tropical regions provide all the necessary conditions for the cultivation of vanilla, especially black vanilla. Today, Madagascar, Indonesia and Mexico are the main producers of vanilla in the world. Vanilla is also found in other countries such as India, French Polynesia, Tahiti, Uganda and China. Madagascar is the first vanilla producer in the world, followed by Indonesia and Mexico. The vanilla plantation in Madagascar is located on the east coast of the island. The economy of the north-east of the island, the SAVA region (Sambava, Antalaha, Vohemar and Ambanja), revolves around vanilla. Sambava is known worldwide as the vanilla capital of the world.
In recent years, Indian production has experienced a remarkable growth. India is one of the emerging countries in the Asia-Pacific region in the vanilla market. In India, vanilla plantations are located in the southern states: Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Like Madagascar vanilla, Indian black vanilla is of the Vanilla planifolia variety. This variety of vanilla is known for its sweet and mellow flavor and intense aroma.
What is the volume of vanilla produced in the world?
Each year, the world production of natural vanilla, especially black vanilla, is about 8000 tons of green vanilla. The volume of prepared vanilla is about 2500 tons per year. Let us recall that Indonesia was the first producer of vanilla in the world until the 90s. Madagascar then became the most important producer of vanilla by providing about 80% of the world production. In 2019, the export of vanilla beans, vanilla extracts, vanilla sugar, vanilla powder and other derived products amounts to about 1780 tons.
Who imports natural vanilla?
The United States, France and Germany are the largest importers of vanilla in the world. The import volume of these three countries represents about 80% of the market for vanilla beans and other vanilla products. France is the largest importer of vanilla in the world with 14% of the world’s imports. But only a part of the production is destined for local consumption. The majority of imported vanilla is destined for re-export after having undergone processing. Vanilla is imported by international traders and processing industries such as Nielsen-Massey Vanillas Inc, Synthite Industries Ltd, McCormick & Company, Adams Flavours, Foods & Ingredients LLC, B&G Foods Inc.
Who uses a lot of natural vanilla?
The food industry is the largest consumer of vanilla such as black vanilla. This sector of activity represents more than 80% of the demand for vanilla on the world market. They buy essentially vanilla flavouring. This is notably the case of Nestlé, General Mills, Unilever, Hershey’s, Kellogg’s, Campbell, Kraft, Coca-Cola, etc. Artisans and professionals in the gastronomy industry also consume a significant amount of natural vanilla in the form of beans, powder or vanilla extract. Chocolate makers, ice cream makers, chefs and pastry chefs use natural dark vanilla to meet consumer expectations. In recent years, consumers have been favouring organic products and do not hesitate to check the origin of the ingredients before buying products. The cosmetics and perfumery industry also uses vanilla. They rely more on the quality of the vanilla extract than on the quantity.