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Vanilla: the sweet taste of sustainability

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Vanilla’s delicate taste and enticing aroma make it one of the world’s most popular flavors, and a good fit for everything from ice cream to beverages. Yet, today brands need to take care when using vanilla to ensure their source of the ingredient meets the sustainability and traceability demands of consumers. Recognizing that, ADM has created a streamlined, direct-from-farmer vanilla supply chain.

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Surveys have found vanilla is the most popular flavor of ice cream in the US and UK.1,2​ The popularity of vanilla has led brands to add the ingredient to a wide range of products across their portfolios of dairy and bakery products, beverages and nutrition bars, setting the sector up to grow in the coming years.³ If those products are to succeed, brands must ensure their vanilla is aligned with the priorities of their consumers.

Shifting priorities. Timeless flavor.

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One in four Americans is actively engaged in conversations online about responsible sourcing.⁴ More than 90% of consumers want food brands to share detailed information about their ingredients.⁵ Three-quarters of people will switch brands if a rival product provides more information. Most US consumers say it is important that the products they buy are made in a sustainable way.⁶ Fair wages for workers are one of the top sustainability attributes Europeans consider when buying food.⁷

Vanilla poses challenges for food manufactures that want to address those consumer demands. Most of the world’s vanilla is grown on thousands of small farms in Madagascar. Traditionally, the supply chains that conveyed vanilla from those farms to food manufacturers were complex, making it hard for buyers to trace ingredients or ensure they live up to environmental, ethical and quality standards.

The complex supply chains have enabled bad practices such as adulteration with tonka bean extract or synthetic vanilla.⁸ Testing may identify the use of adulterants but the most effective way to ensure authenticity and retain the trust of consumers is to eliminate the potential for wrongdoing.

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Simplifying the supply chain

ADM addressed the potential pitfalls of sourcing vanilla by establishing a direct-from farmer supply chain. The approach, which ADM adopted through its Savan alliance with Sahanala, is focused on the transparency, socio-economic stability and cost effectiveness of vanilla production in Madagascar.

By going directly to farmers, ADM simplified the supply chain, increasing efficiency and improving traceability — a goal supported by a mobile device-based system — while ensuring farmers capture more of the value of their crop. Getting more money into the hands of farmers has multiple benefits. Farmers that earn a good living from vanilla are more likely to continue growing the crop.

By supporting a body of committed vanilla growers, ADM stands to advance its goal of having a stable, sustainable supply of the ingredient.

ADM is using its stable source to create affordable vanilla extracts, flavors, pots, pastes, cured beans, liquids, powders and other products that address the full spectrum of applications. In doing so, ADM is helping brands meet consumer demands for sustainable, traceable products with the vanilla flavor they love.

To find out more about ADM’s vanilla portfolio, and how they can create products and solutions to suit your needs, click the banner below.

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