Vanilla – a valuable aromatic plants for suppliers from developing countries

In 2014, vanilla was imported to EU at approximately €36 per kg. About 1900 tons were imported in this year and 83% of the suppliers are from developing countries. Among these countries, Madagascar occupied for 63% of import amount. Though far behind Madagascar, India took the second position with 5,7% and Jamaica followed with 4,5%.


Possitive fact for suppliers is that the vanilla imports still have plenty of rooms to increase. While the prices have been increased by almost 50% for vanilla industrial graded beans and by 15 – 20% for food service graded beans since 2012, vanilla still faces higher demand than supply. Furthermore the increase of EU demand depends  largely on the increase of supplies, at reasonably price. Adverse development can be expected when vanilla is extremely overpriced. Vanilla suppliers need to pay close attentions to the price changes and market preferences frequently.

Good quality vanilla that complies with food safety requirements in EU (traceability, hygiene, & control) will cost not much effort from suppliers to find buyers in EU. Still, other considerations for ingredient commodity to enter Europe need to be put into concerns, namely labelling, packaging, contamination & pesticide residue levels in vanilla.  

Regarding food safety, EU Generla Food Law and HACCP standards are applied by EU buyers to control the safety of imported food, food ingredients. For microbiological contamination on vanilla, steam sterilisation is often preferred by EU buyers. This method is costly but worth a premium on price, since, since there is no alternatives to steam sterilisation until this moment (2017). Suppliers could earn significanlt higher profit if providing steam sterilized vanilla sterrilized at source. Meanwhile investment in equipment can be up €1m.

Other highlights about vanillia is the requirements of niche market: sustainable product certifications (Organic, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance) and corporate scial responsility evidences of the suppliers. Having these certifications, for food in generals, for herbs, spices, essential oils, vanilla in specific, is a significant plus for suppliers to find market, also to found long term supply tight with the buyers.

Contemporarily Vanilla planifolia Andrews, common name “Madagascar Bourbon”, is the most popular cultivate variety. Global market price (end 2014) was between €45 – €55 per kg while retail price was as high as €800 per kg for consumer packed vanilla, each package containing only 1 pod.

Source: Summarized by NBI International – MAP EXPO team, the article is based on information provided by CBI Product Factsheet: Vanilla in Europe.