The recent vanilla shortage has been largely influenced by weather, causing poor crops or shortages, the early harvest of vanilla beans, and record high prices. Customers are therefore having difficulty sourcing vanilla or finding quality substitutes. As the price of vanilla beans has skyrocketed, the use of immature beans with low vanillin levels, substitution of cheaper origin beans and adulteration have in turn increased.
In order to ensure the provenance of supply, FDL have specialists that inspect the beans at source, as well as manufacture flavour extracts directly from vanilla beans in the UK, ensuring the integrity of the product delivered to our customers. By doing so, this adds an additional dimension to providing customers with the peace of mind regarding the quality and integrity of the final flavours or extracts they receive. The actual process itself can be audited and inspected by customers, and every batch produced has complete traceability.
However, a wholesale adulteration industry has arisen, which substitutes natural vanilla with synthetic. This has become increasingly sophisticated and was featured in a CBS news article earlier this year as one of the most adulterated foods. As analytical methods have been developed to try to detect adulteration, methods to defeat these have been developed with equal speed. Worse yet in our view, misleading labelling on flavours such as ”bourbon type extract” or “contains vanilla extract” are other methods used to dupe or mislead customers and consumers alike. At FDL on the other hand, we create premium vanilla extracts by using our proprietary extraction process, which can then be blended with previous batches or combined with our sources of natural flavours, thereby optimising cost and flavour.
Vanillin ex-eugenol demand has also increased, which is derived from clove oil and clove leaf oil. This is typically sourced from China, which has seen demand grow. Products using this source of vanillin cannot be labelled ”natural” because the flavour does not come from beans, but unfortunately this is the case. To make matters worse, almost all China based ex-eugenol is blended with synthetic vanillin ex-lignin. It is FDL’s view that the only way to secure the integrity of the supply chain is to both source, extract and compound directly to ensure the provenance of vanilla flavours.


FDL can provide tailor made, cost effective, natural and organic alternatives to vanilla extracts. If you are interested in finding out more about the Vanilla Market, are having issues sourcing or need to redevelop your existing vanilla to reduce costs – contact FDL today!