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Vanilla

A global favorite

For people all over the world, vanilla triggers emotional connections and memories. From the delicious indulgence of a favorite chocolate bar to the scent of freshly washed laundry, the appeal of vanilla is universal.

“There is a magic to vanilla. Made up of over 400 flavor and aroma compounds, and demanding hand-pollination, it’s subtle, complex and requires skill and passion to create the distinctive vanilla scents and flavors we all love.”

As Global Competence Director for Vanilla, Clemens Tenge brings his passion for vanilla to everything he does. “Vanilla is often used to describe something bland or plain, but we know it’s anything but,” he continues. “It’s a global favorite and demand today is as high as ever: from candles to chocolate, homecare to cereal, it’s universally loved and has an emotive, evocative quality. Vanilla is one of our core competencies and has always had a central role in our company. Really, our story began when the original founders of Symrise became the first people to synthesize vanillin in 1874, opening up vanilla to a world of new consumers, who of course loved it!”

The invention of synthetic vanillin in 1874 by our founders was the start of everything for us. Over 100 years later, we’re still pioneers in vanilla and are as passionate about it as ever – it’s the undisputed Queen of Spices.

“Our involvement in Madagascar and our sustainable supply chain is one of four keystones of our vanilla competency. When you combine this sustainable, controlled supply with our extensive research and understanding of what consumers want, our creative potential and excellence, and our ability to adapt to developments and market requirements, we have a formula for delivering what our customers need and what their consumers want. It’s a team effort, taking everyone from the farmers in Madagascar to our perfumers, flavorists, marketing and sales teams. And for me, with my fascination with all-things vanilla, this is the dream job.”

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“There is a magic to vanilla. Made up of over 400 flavor and aroma compounds, and demanding hand-pollination, it’s subtle, complex and requires skill and passion to create the distinctive vanilla scent we all love.”

As Global Competence Director for Vanilla, Clemens Tenge brings his passion for vanilla to everything he does. “Vanilla is often used to describe something bland or plain, but we know it’s anything but,” he continues. “It’s a global favorite and demand today is as high as ever: from candles to chocolate, homecare to cereal, it’s universally loved and has an emotive, evocative quality. Vanilla is one of our core competencies and has always had a central role in our company. Really, our story began when the original founders of Symrise became the first people to synthesize vanillin in 1874, opening up vanilla to a world of new consumers, who of course loved it!”

“100 years later, we’re still pioneers in vanilla, although consumer preferences are always changing. We’re seeing more and more people interested in the origins of the ingredients that go into the products they buy. Consumers are seeking out authentic, natural scents, and that is driving the demand for sustainably sourced ingredients. We recognized this shift, and the opportunity it offered. It’s one of the key reasons why in 2006 we became the first company to invest in our own operations in Madagascar – allowing us to provide the only fully backward integrated supply of premium bourbon vanilla in the world.”

“We’re proud to say that all of our vanilla is grown sustainably, that we’re helping more and more farmers grow vanilla accredited to various sustainability programs such as EU Organic or Rainforest Alliance, and that we’re working with local communities in Madagascar to make a real difference. We recently invested in our own extraction facility in Madagascar as well, further expanding our work there. It’s a win-win for everyone, and gives our customers a major advantage and the opportunity to create products that are truly differentiated in the market.”

The invention of synthetic vanillin in 1874 by our founders was the start of everything for us. Over 100 years later, we’re still pioneers in vanilla and are as passionate about it as ever – it’s the undisputed Queen of Spices.

“Our involvement in Madagascar and our sustainable supply chain is one of four keystones of our vanilla competency. When you combine this sustainable, controlled supply with our extensive research and understanding of what consumers want, our creative potential and excellence, and our ability to adapt to developments and market requirements, we have a formula for delivering what our customers need and what their consumers want. It’s a team effort, taking everyone from the farmers in Madagascar to our perfumers, evaluators, marketing and sales teams. And for me, with my fascination with all-things vanilla, this is the dream job.”

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A sustainable source

We’re working with over 7,000 farmers across the SAVA region of Madagascar, sustainably sourcing our vanilla and ensuring that it’s traceable and of premium quality – year after year.

The heart of global vanilla production

Madagascar may be a small island but it looms large in the world of vanilla, producing four-fifths of all the world’s vanilla harvest every year.

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600

600 blossoms need to be pollinated by hand to produce 6 kg of green beans

6 kg

Around 6kg of green vanilla beans are needed to produce 1kg of black beans

1 kg

From 1kg of black beans, we produce 10 liters of concentrated vanilla extract

Creating shared value

In 2006, we became the first flavor and scent company to have its own operations in Madagascar. From the outset we were committed to working with the local farmers and their communities to establish a supply chain that created shared value for everyone involved.

7,000

We have direct partnerships with 7,000 farmers

40,000

Over 40,000 people benefit directly or indirectly from Symrise’s activities

700,000

Since 2011, we’ve distributed over 700,000 seeds for merbau trees – a tropical timber

Creating sustainable communities together

Many of Madagascar’s vanilla farmers live in poverty. We’re working hard with NGOs and local people to create more prosperous, sustainable communities.

Rice for all

We provide farmers with rice supplies on credit during the lean season so they don’t need to sell their vanilla beans early at reduced prices.

Fighting poverty through crop diversification

We encourage and support farmers to grow a variety of crops including cocoa, cloves, cinnamon, pepper and vetiver. Grown on the same plots of vanilla, these crops provide extra income without contributing to deforestation.

Local training by local people

Our farmer field schools train selected farmers from each village in certification processes, sustainable farming practices, and soil and slope management so they can pass this knowledge on to the other farmers in their communities.

Providing practical education for young people

By subsidizing Maison Familiale Rurale schools, we’re helping young people through education that mixes formal learning with practical experience. This ultimately helps young adults who want to assist on their family farms or start out on their own.

Mahavelona Mutual Health Insurance

Our healthcare programme is the first to help small vanilla farmers and their families cover medical costs. As a result, more and more farmers are developing trust in modern medicine.

The perfect blend

Crafting the perfect vanilla extract is all about balance. Our expert extractors combine specialist insight with their passion for vanilla. The result? Tailor-made extracts matching the desires of our customers.

A taste for perfection

How do you craft precise extracts and flavors from natural, unpredictable vanilla beans? The answer is to call in the bean professors.

Scenting success

Creating scents that meet a customer’s brief takes more than an expert nose. Our perfumers balance their creativity with their chemical knowledge, drawing on the skills and experience of a range of teams to produce the best possible products.

Combining insight and inspiration

Finding a way to combine insight with inspiration is essential to meeting the present and future needs of our customers. But for us, the complexity of consumer preference is just another source of inspiration.

Gathering global insight

“What’s driving consumer behavior? That’s one of the core questions we‘re trying to answer every day,” says Jan Eckhardt, Marketing Director for Sweet across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. “To do that, we run insight and trend studies. For example across defined urban hot spots we’ve interviewed food bloggers, entrepreneurs and cultural researchers, giving us insight into what’s happening now. This insight – what’s going on in the street? What’s driving trend setters? What’s new in restaurants and cafes and how does that translate to products? – is absolutely invaluable when it comes to delivering winning flavor solutions.”

Knowing what works

Identifying what consumers want, often before they even know they want it, is all part of the job for Kristina Nowak, Marketing Group Manager for Scent Homecare across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. “When it comes to scent everything we do is aimed at a specific market – for a specific end user,” she explains. “From evaluating new products to mapping new trends, we are always working to identify new opportunities to delight both our customers and their consumers.”

A fragrance family tree

40 years ago, a perfumer at Haarmann & Reimer, one of our predecessor companies, saw a need to categorize all the fine fragrances on the market. This became our fragrance genealogy – an entirely new concept for the industry. Today it’s still unique, and we produce different versions covering masculine and feminine fragrances, as well as functional products like laundry detergents. Every year a team tests and assesses new additions to each genealogy, adding descriptors and marking key information. In this way, we can easily identify where opportunities exist for creating new fragrances or products.

Access all areas

The next big foodie trend could be just around the corner. But knowing which corner, and where it is in the world, means you need to combine local insight with global coverage. Chefs United® is our way of doing just that. Made up of more than 31,000 chefs across the globe, the network covers every angle of the culinary world, from Michelin-starred restaurants to street food stalls. The chefs are brought together under the experienced award-wining chef Gianfranco Chiarini, a culinary giant and the founder of this vital Symrise brand.

A question of taste

A perfect summer’s day, a favorite holiday, your mother’s cooking; one lick of vanilla ice cream, the scent of fresh laundry or a spoonful of rich custard can evoke memories. Taste and scent is personal: that’s why creating the flavors and aromas people love, today and in the future, is so important.

140 years and counting
Our work in the world of vanilla has only just begun

We’ve been pioneers in the world of vanilla for decades, ever since we were the first to synthesize vanilla over 140 years ago. Our passion for this incredible spice is as strong as ever and we know there is always more work to do, more to learn and something new just around the corner that will delight customers and consumers.

I find the teamwork here brings out the best in everyone; it refuels the imagination, and means we can go the extra mile to delight consumers and customers.

Heinrich Schaper, Global President of Flavor

From our flavorists to our perfumers, to the members of our team working with farmers in Madagascar, we’re all committed to continuing to improve everything vanilla related across our business. As well as ever-increasing demand, one of the biggest changes we’ve seen over recent years is the speed required by our customers to create products that hit briefs first time around. We will keep building our expertise, our knowledge and our ability to create products that fit any brief to ensure we can stay one step ahead, and give our customers, and everyone we work with, the best possible solutions.