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IFF and Evolva step closer to commercialising new natural vanillin

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 06-Feb-2013

Vanilla is the second most popular flavour worldwide, after chocolate
Vanilla is the second most popular flavour worldwide, after chocolate

International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) and Switzerland-based Evolva Holding have said they have entered a pre-production phase for a natural vanillin flavour produced through fermentation.

Evolva and IFF have been working together for the past two years on a natural, cost effective and sustainable vanillin that can be scaled up to produce commercial quantities, and the companies now say they have entered a pre-production phase to do this with a third party. They are working to confirm yield targets that could be achievable through a yeast-based fermentation method.

Evolva CEO Neil Goldsmith said: “We strongly believe that fermentation as an innovative and sustainable way to produce vanillin is a very attractive alternative to the traditional production routes.”

Natural vanillin is a compound from the vanilla bean, the ‘fruit’ of the flowering vanilla orchid, which provides vanilla flavour. However the vanilla orchid must be propagated by hand, which is both time and labour intensive. As demand for vanilla flavours is increasing all the time, global vanilla production is struggling to keep up.

A replacement for vanilla-derived vanillin can also be produced from the wood polymer lignin, and is generally used in instead of the spice in cheaper products. With volatility in the vanilla market in recent years, vanillin has increased in popularity.

IFF vice president of R&D Mark Dewis said: If the scale up is successful, this innovative solution should provide a sustainable source for what has been a volatile raw material and should provide IFF customers with unique products.”

Evolva received an upfront technology access fee and monthly research fees under the agreement with IFF, and also received its first milestone payment for achieving certain yield an production goals in June last year. Under the terms of the collaboration, IFF will commercialise the product and Evolva will receive royalties on product sales based on both margin and volume. 

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