Symrise promotes need for quality control in vanilla supply

5 Oct 2017

Prices for real vanilla are currently at an all-time high, Symrise says, meaning that comprehensive quality controls are needed for products made from this plant.

Symrise promotes need for quality control in vanilla supply

Vanilla is the best-known and most popular flavour in the world and the second most expensive spice after saffron, according to Symrise. Prices for real vanilla are currently at an all-time high, the company says, with customers paying $550 to $600 for one kilogram of black vanilla beans, making the spice even more valuable than silver.

Vanilla extracts and isolated vanillin are also used as important flavour components in addition to the pods of the vanilla orchid themselves, the company says. Therefore, comprehensive quality controls are needed for products made from this plant. By employing these controls Symrise claims it not only meets the increasing demand of customers for certification of authenticity but moreover it complies with national regulations in individual countries.

Depending on the product and its position in the supply and value chain, different methods are used for quality control and to provide proof of authenticity. If plant material is being examined, for example, this can be done by DNA analysis. On the other hand, commercially used vanillin can be differentiated in terms of its origin and production method using isotope ratio mass spectrometry and magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

Symrise says it has been using isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) for many years to verify authenticity. Recently, an extended IRMS method was established to further enhance the process of differentiating quality levels of vanillin. Details on the complete approach have been published by Symrise in the Flavour and Fragrance Journal.

After integration of all available spectroscopic data using a statistical approach. Symrise believes the results enable a significantly improved differentiation of the vanillin based on critical provenances. This allows vanillin that was produced naturally from eugenol to be differentiated from synthetic vanillin derived from lignin or curcumin, for example. This approach is said to highly improve the quality and authenticity verification for vanilla products and set new standards, through which the company says the needs of Symrise customers can be met in this discerning market segment both now and in the future.

Symrise points out that it is focusing on sustainability with its vanilla production in Madagascar. The company works with roughly 7,000 small-scale farmers in the fertile SAVA region, sourcing the spice directly from these farmers. The result is claimed to be a sustainable and fully integrated supply chain. Beyond that, the fragrance and flavouring manufacturer says it helps the farmers improve their cultivation methods and thereby also improve their living conditions.