The acquisition brings Symrise closer to the source, allowing it to anticipate harvest trends, ensure sustainability and better quality control, allow them to try different technologies and lets them check the vanilla production is in compliance with its own business ethics. Last year, Symrise acquired a minority interest with the France-based company that supplies natural raw materials such as vanilla, cocoa, coffee, botanical extracts and seafood. After this one year partnership, Symrise will take control of the remaining shares of the company and own 100 per cent of Aromatics' assets. "This backward integration in the field of vanilla has successfully proven that it translates into first-class raw materials and a secure supply chain, as well as reliability and traceability for our customers," said Heinrich Schaper, president of flavour & nutrition EAME (Europe, Africa, Middle East) at Symrise. Aromatics was founded by Michel de Franssu in 1999, and has facilities on Madagascar, where half the world's vanilla is grown, as well as in Paris and Grasse. Symrise, which provides natural, nature-identical and artificial vanilla along with pure vanilla extracts, is currently ranked among the top four in the global fragrance and flavouring market. However, it hopes this innovative move will put it at the top of the international market. Heinz-Juergen Bertram, president global flavour & nutrition, said: "This investment creates a powerful platform that will enable us to produce extracts at their site of origin which comply with the US FDA standard of identity. Furthermore, Symrise remains committed to its social responsibility: it is currently applying for organic and fair trade certification, and it actively supports social programs on Madagascar." As consumers becoming increasingly interested in their social responsibility, Fairtrade products have experienced rapid growth, and sales in the UK rose 46 per cent last year to £290m. Although coffee, tea and bananas are predominant Fairtrade products, vanilla has emerged as another popular ethical product. Vanilla is crucial to a wide variety of food and beverage applications, including baked goods, sodas, candies, syrups, ice cream and soy milk. The global market for vanilla beans has been in tumult in recent years, and prices soared from about $20 a kilo to $300 a kilo, on the back of a devastating cyclone in Madagascar in 2000, and its political crisis in 2002. As a result, many companies switched to synthetic vanillin. The current world demand for natural vanilla is about 40 metric tons a year. This is significantly less than the global demand for synthetic vanillin, which currently stands at around 16,000 tons a year and costs one-hundredth of the price of the natural product. It not only substitutes for vanilla, but also supplements adulterated vanilla extracts.