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Creativity & innovation

No.1

vanilla is the most important sweet direction in the world

50%

of all the vanilla produced each year is consumed in the US

1kg

of black vanilla beans is combined with alcohol to make 1 liter of ten-fold vanilla extract

The global favorite

Our passion for vanilla, the Queen of Spices, runs through everything we do; from creating perfect extracts that capture this complex flavor to ensuring the sustainability of our supply chain.

“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: it’s used in over 18,000 products and is the world’s number one sweet flavour direction.”

The invention of synthetic vanillin in 1874 by our founders was the start of everything for us. Over 140 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. In combination with our leading vanilla research, our creative excellence and our understanding of market requirements and trends, 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 master flavorists and application teams, 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: it’s used in over 18,000 products and is the world’s number one sweet flavour direction.”

“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 to synthesize vanillin in 1874, opening up vanilla’s delicious flavor to a world of new consumers, who of course loved it!”

“Over 140 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 their food, seeking out authentic, natural flavours and driving the demand for sustainably sourced ingredients. We recognized this shift and it’s one of the key reasons why in 2006 we became the first flavor manufacturer to invest in our own operations in Madagascar – allowing us to provide the only fully backward integrated supply of Bourbon vanilla in the world.”

“We’re proud to say that our vanilla portfolio is becoming more sustainable every day, that we’re helping more and more farmers grow vanilla accredited tp standards such as Organic, Fair Trade 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 – supply stability, traceability and quality are all improved – 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 140 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. In combination with our leading vanilla research, our creative excellence and our understanding of market requirements and trends, 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 master flavorists and application teams, marketing and sales teams. And for me, with my fascination with all-things vanilla, this is the dream job.”

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A heritage full of flavor

We’ve been a trailblazer in bringing the beloved flavor of vanilla to people worldwide ever since our business began in 1874

1874

In 1874 two chemists, Wilhelm Haarmann and Ferdinand Tiemann, produced synthetic vanillin for the first time. Their discovery was a world-first, a man-made version of the natural flavor that was already a global favorite: Queen Elizabeth I was said to be partial to vanilla-flavored sweetmeats, and the French have enjoyed vanilla ice cream since the 1700s. Thomas Jefferson discovered this sweet treat in Paris in 1780 and enjoyed it so much he took a recipe back to the United States, beginning an American love-affair with vanilla ice-cream.

1875
1875

While Tiemann decided to go into academia, Haarmann laid the groundwork for Symrise, founding Haarmann’s vanillin factory in Holzminden in 1875.

2003
2003

Haarmann’s factory was one of two in Holzminden that were brought together when Symrise was founded in 2003. The second factory was that of DRAGOCO, another world leading supplier of flavors.

2005
2005

In 2005, we expanded our natural vanilla business with the gradual integration of the French-Malagasy company, Aromatics S.A.S. This was a vital step towards the integration of our vanilla value creation chain.

Today

Today, we produce over 4,400 tons of vanilla flavors every year. We blend our expertise in both the extraction of natural vanilla and the creation of synthetic and nature-identical vanillin to meet the growing demands of our global customers and consumers. From our flavorists who work closely with customers to create new recipes, to our experts who work hand-in-hand with farmers in Madagascar, everything we do is focused on bringing the unmistakable flavor of this global favorite to people worldwide.

Global vanilla demand

The global demand for vanilla continues to increase each year, with demand for natural vanilla regularly exceeding supply. Over recent years, we’ve seen an increasing shift from artificial flavorings to natural extracts and nature-identical vanillin.

Meeting increasing demands

The demand for vanilla far exceeds the supply of natural vanilla, which is why synthetic vanillin is so important, meaning more and more people can enjoy the vanilla flavor they love.

Global vanilla demand

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.

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

“Ultimately, whenever you taste vanilla, we want you to be tasting the vanilla that you love – that reminds you of a certain memory or has that satisfying, indulgent taste that makes sweet treats so enjoyable. It takes a lot of scientific understanding and knowledge to do what we do, but really that would be nothing without passion for the products we create. The biggest job-satisfaction is knowing you are creating something people love.”

I’ve always loved food and been fascinated by how tastes vary from person to person, region to region. Really, I’ve made my hobby into my job.

Gunter Kindel, Principal Flavorist

“Ultimately, whenever you taste vanilla, we want you to be tasting the vanilla that you love – that reminds you of a certain memory or has that satisfying, indulgent taste that makes sweet treats so enjoyable. It takes a lot of scientific understanding and knowledge to do what we do, but really that would be nothing without passion for the products we create. The biggest job-satisfaction is knowing you are creating something people love”

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

“As one of the world’s best-loved flavors, vanilla is also one of the most-complex. With over 400 aroma and flavor compounds combining to create the taste we know and love, extracting that perfect vanilla flavor from naturally varying beans is no easy task. Add to that the range of regional taste preferences, and the knowledge and skill required to create distinctive yet recognizable vanilla flavors is something only the best in the business have.”

“I’ve always been interested in food, and particularly regional preferences”, explains Gunter Kindel, a Principal Flavorist who’s been working at Symrise for more than 40 years. “Even within the world of vanilla, a flavor universally loved and my personal favorite area to work in, the precise quality of taste that we enjoy and associate with vanilla ranges hugely from region to region. The focus of my work here is to not only ensure that our vanilla extracts are consistent year on year, but to also make sure we have enough variety to meet the demands of consumers and the needs of our customers.”

“No two briefs from a client are the same,” continues Christoph Fischer, a Master Flavorist at Symrise. “Even if you have two requests for a flavor solution that will be used in the same product, say a chocolate bar, the requirements around things like flavor profile or price point can be worlds apart. It’s my role to develop solutions that exactly meet individual customer needs. Really, my job is only possible because I can rely on the extracts and flavors developed by Gunter and his team to behave in the way I expect them to; not only in terms of taste, but also in how they react to heat, water etc.”

“Creating consistent extracts each year is not as simple as following the method you used the previous year”, say Gunter. “Everything can impact the flavor profile of natural vanilla beans – where they’re grown, the weather, how they’re fermented, transporting the beans. People often think it all comes down to the vanillin content because that’s the best known component of the ‘vanilla flavor’, but you get variation even in samples with the exact same vanillin content”

“It all starts with the raw material. Because we’re working with farmers on the ground in Madagascar, from day one of a new crop-cycle we can begin to influence and nurture the flavor profiles our customers need. You need to control everything, from blossom to bean to fermentation to extract. It’s a long process, but even then it’s not just about what you do. You need to understand what it is that makes vanilla such a unique flavor. We take samples at the source, evaluating beans long before fermentation to assess things like vanillin content. Post-fermentation, we analyze the main constituents of a sample as it’s these that make up the flavor profile. This means everything from smelling the beans to taking a first extract, analyzing that and then characterizing it. Is it a fuller flavor than previous years? Sweeter? Creamier? It’s only through exhaustive evaluation that we can decide on which beans and batches to use for creating different extracts.”

“That decision is also informed by customer needs, which in turn are influenced by consumer preferences. For example, in Germany, we know and love a buttery, creamy vanilla, so with that mind, we’ll be thinking about how we can enhance those characteristics if the extract will ultimately be used in a flavor solution for the German market.”

“Ultimately, whenever you taste vanilla, we want you to be tasting the vanilla that you love – that reminds you of a certain memory or has that satisfying, indulgent taste that makes sweet treats so enjoyable. It takes a lot of scientific understanding and knowledge to do what we do, but really that would be nothing without passion for the products we create. The biggest job-satisfaction is knowing you are creating something people love.”

“I’ve always loved food and been fascinated by how tastes vary from person to person, region to region. Really, I’ve made my hobby into my job”

Gunter Kindel, Principal Flavorist

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Unleashing the unique flavor of natural vanilla

Sweet, smokey, nutty, rummy… natural vanilla is a stunningly complex spice with as many as 500 different flavor components. Capturing this complexity and pinpointing individual notes is what our extracts are all about.

Bourbon Vanilla

Originally from Mexico, Bourbon vanilla beans are today mainly grown in Madagascar, with smaller harvests being grown on other islands in the Indian Ocean and Indonesia. Bourbon vanilla beans are long and slender, and ideally, you should look for straight beans when using the seeds for cooking or baking. They have a rich taste and smell, with flavor notes such as dried fruit, rum and raisins. They bring a creamy flavor to the products they’re used in, and have strong vanillin overtones.

Vanilla flavors
Vanilla flavors

Vanilla flavors are made by combining two or more extracts together, or by mixing extracts with other raw materials, such as lemon oil.

Evaluating extracts
Evaluating extracts

“When we evaluate extracts or products, we all have different impressions and use different wording, but we almost always come together at the end of the day.” 

Christof Fischer, Master Flavorist

Synthetic vanillin
Synthetic vanillin

First created in 1874, synthetic vanillin is essential to meeting the worldwide demand for the taste of vanilla – without it, there simply wouldn’t be enough vanilla to meet demand.

Tahitian vanilla

Tahitian vanilla beans are generally shorter, fatter and contain a higher oil and water content than Bourbon beans. Tahitian beans also have more of a floral, fruity fragrance, and the pods contain less seeds than you find in Bourbon beans. The flavor is often described as being lighter than Bourbon, with undertones of cherry or wine.

Single-fold vanilla
Single-fold vanilla

Perfect for home baking and cooking, single-fold vanilla extract brings a comforting quality to all dishes

Three-fold vanilla
Three-fold vanilla

Typically used in chocolate or ice cream, bringing the smooth, creamy vanilla flavour we all love

10-fold vanilla
10-fold vanilla

Typically used in white chocolate or dessert recipes, 10-fold vanilla is pure indulgence

From brief to bottle, box, can, packet…

Join us on the journey from customer brief to final product and discover how the creative talent and expert knowledge of our team is helping customers across the world to capture new market opportunities.

A talent for taste

Our expert chefs bring the distinctive taste of vanilla to all things sweet, from ice cream to cheesecake. But it might surpise you that vanilla is bringing its power to the savory world.

Harry Weber, International Chef at Symrise, is in his element, deftly chopping tomatoes for a tomato and vanilla vinaigrette while explaining why it is vanilla is just so special.

Increasingly, we’re using vanilla in savory recipes,” he explains. “It’s a trend we first noticed in the US – where a lot of trends first appear – and now it’s everywhere, particularly in fine dining.” In Harry’s world, being able to spot trends and predict where they’re heading is vital.

“As a chef, of course one of my biggest passions is the raw ingredients travel a lot with my job so going out into markets wherever I am in the world and handling, smelling and tasting raw ingredients is one of my biggest sources of inspiration. With vanilla it’s no different. I’m looking for straight beans with a good aroma and rich color, and seeing the natural product always sparks a new idea.”

It brings something to everything it’s paired with. With these tomatoes, it’s adding warmth; another taste dimension. That’s what makes vanilla so special – it works with everything; it brings harmony.

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Harry Weber, International Chef at Symrise, is in his element, deftly chopping tomatoes for a tomato and vanilla vinaigrette while explaining why it is vanilla is just so special.

Increasingly, we’re using vanilla in savory recipes,” he explains. “It’s a trend we first noticed in the US – where a lot of trends first appear – and now it’s everywhere, particularly in fine dining.”

In Harry’s world, being able to spot trends and predict where they’re heading is vital. “Like all my colleagues, I’m part of the digital chef’s network of 31000 chefs under Gianfranco Chiarini. We work everywhere, from Hot Dog stands to the world’s best restaurants. Having access to such a wide range of expertise means that when we get a brief from a client, or are working on a new product to inspire our customers with, we can get real insights from chefs on the ground and inspiring information about what they are cooking, methods of preparation, dish combinations or unusual ingredients and then turn that know-how/knowledge into new and best flavors and solutions to delight our customers. This is why we are able to develop recipes that are as authentic as possible for and with our customers”

It brings something to everything it’s paired with. With these tomatoes, it’s adding warmth; another taste dimension. That’s what makes vanilla so special – it works with everything; it brings harmony.

“As a chef, of course one of my biggest passions is the raw ingredients. I travel a lot with my job so going out into markets wherever I am in the world and handling, smelling and tasting ingredients is one of my biggest sources of inspiration. With vanilla it’s no different. I’m looking for straight beans with a good aroma and rich color, and seeing the natural product always sparks a new idea. There are no limits; if something doesn’t work, you always learn something you can take into your next iteration. That’s the beauty of working on developing products – there is always something new to try, to see and to taste!”

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The secret ingredient – knowledge

Perfect products need more than the best raw ingredients: skill and understanding are what take those building blocks and transforms them into successful, tailor-made flavor solutions.

Sweet, creamy, smooth and comforting? Rich, rummy, indulgent and buttery? The characteristics we associate with vanilla, even what we define as a typical vanilla taste, varies from region to region. Vanilla may be ubiquitous world over, but it’s anything but a simple, safe flavor.

Meeting the variety of consumer demands is the challenge facing our customers, and it’s one our master flavorists are helping them to conquer. “When we get a client brief, one of our first ports of call is our research department. Understanding the market the final product will be sold in is vital to helping us creating a flavor solution that ensures the customer’s final product is a success,” explains Gunter Kindel, Principal Flavorist. “We’ll evaluate the market, identify any gaps, any trends and so on.”

Every day is different. With over 2,500 raw materials to work with, there really are no limits to what we can create. What we do takes in-depth knowledge, but you’re also learning every day, so there’s always something new to offer our customers.

Christof Fischer, Master Flavorist

“Taste is always the main priority, so we’ll draw on our knowledge to use substitutes where possible, or other raw materials that dial up the sense of certain vanilla characteristics to give the desired taste profile without impacting cost. We always want to end up with a win-win situation for everyone. All of these considerations mean the development work we do across our application teams will never end; it never stops.

Read full article

Sweet, creamy, smooth and comforting? Rich, rummy, indulgent and buttery? The characteristics we associate with vanilla, even what we define as a typical vanilla taste, varies from region to region. Vanilla may be ubiquitous world over, but it’s anything but a simple, safe flavor.

Meeting the variety of consumer demands is the challenge facing our customers, and it’s one our master flavorists are helping them to conquer. “When we get a client brief, one of our first ports of call is our research department. Understanding the market the final product will be sold in is vital to helping us create a flavor solution that ensures the customer’s final product is a success,” explains Gunter Kindel, Principal Flavorist. “We’ll evaluate the market, identify any gaps, any trends and so on.”

“We also get a lot of this information from the customer; they’re another key bridge between us and the consumer,” continues Christoph Fischer, Master Flavorist. “All this knowledge informs the extracts we work with for a particular brief, and what we then combine these with to create the ideal flavour profile.  So if the target market is one which favors vanilla with strong rummy notes, we’ll use an extract where we know this characteristic is strong. We’ll then start to think about other raw materials we can add to further pump up the rummy notes.”

“We’ve also developed a vanilla language,” says Gunter. “It’s not dissimilar to how you’d talk about wine; each term describes a different attribute and each descriptor is paired to a key substance within vanilla. We give these templates to customers so we’re all speaking the same language; if they say they want a creamier taste, we know what to adjust.”

We always start from the taste – this has to be the number one consideration. But there are other elements to consider,” continues Christoph. “Different extracts use different solvents, and this can have a major impact on the final product. For example, if we’re creating a solution for a halal product, we obviously can’t use an extract where ethanol was used for extraction.”

“You also need to know exactly what the final product is. Generally for a chocolate bar, we use oil-soluble extracts as water-soluble extracts can cause discoloration on the surface of the chocolate bar which consumers don’t want to see. But then customers’ chocolate bases, (the base the flavour will ultimately be added to), can vary just as much as consumer preferences. What works for one won’t work for another, so every solution needs to be tailor-made. Or if you’re thinking about ice cream, or hard-boiled sweets, then you need to know how certain ingredients and extracts respond to temperature.”

Every day is different. With over 2,500 raw materials to work with, there really are no limits to what we can create. What we do takes in-depth knowledge, but you’re also learning every day, so there’s always something new to offer our customers.

Christof Fischer, Master Flavorist

“Cost is also hugely influential. Depending on the market, it may be inappropriate to develop a luxury, gourmet solution if it means the target consumer can’t then enjoy this. Taste is still the main priority though, so we’ll draw on our knowledge to use substitutes where possible, or other raw materials that dial up the sense of certain vanilla characteristics to give the desired taste profile without impacting cost. We always want to end up with a win-win situation for everyone. All of these considerations mean the development work we do across our application teams will never end; it never stops.”

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A question of taste

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

Vanilla today

There is no better way to understand what it is consumers want than by asking the people who interact with them every day. 

Delivering solutions that delight consumers are successful for our customers takes more than just great taste and expertise.

We also need to make sure that we’re delivering exactly what consumers want; even before they might know they want it. “What’s driving consumer behavior and choices?” asks Jan Eckhardt, Marketing Director for Sweet across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. “That’s one of the core questions we‘re trying to answer every day. We always want to enable our customers to deliver what consumers want; not only for their present needs, but also anticipating future scenarios and trends.”

“To help us do that, we run insight and trend studies. For example across defined urban hot spots we’ve interviewed food bloggers, entrepreneurs and cultural researchers. It gives us insight into what is happening now, and helps us understand the first influencers; the people who are driving the trends of tomorrow. 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. If you don’t know what consumers want, or if you can’t predict what they might want next, then we can’t deliver winning flavor solutions for today and tomorrow.”

We always want to enable our customers to deliver what consumers want; not only for their present needs, but also anticipating future scenarios and trends.

Read full article

Delivering solutions that delight consumers are successful for our customers takes more than just great taste and expertise. We also need to make sure that we’re delivering exactly what consumers want; even before they might know they want it.

“What’s driving consumer behavior and choices?” asks Jan Eckhardt, Marketing Director for Sweet across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. “That’s one of the core questions we‘re trying to answer every day. We always want to enable our customers deliver what consumers want; not only for their present needs, but also anticipating future scenarios and trends.”

“To help us do that, we run insight and trend studies. For example across defined urban hot spots we’ve interviewed food bloggers, entrepreneurs and cultural researchers. It gives us insight into what is happening now, and helps us understand the first influencers; the people who are driving the trends of tomorrow. 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. If you don’t know what consumers want, or if you can’t predict what they might want next, then we can’t deliver winning flavor solutions for today and tomorrow.”

We always want to enable our customers deliver what consumers want; not only for their present needs, but also anticipating future scenarios and trends.

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The future of vanilla

Ensuring the long-term reign of the subtly complex Queen of Spices, vanilla, requires an approach as multi-faceted as the spice itself.

From our commitment to Madagascar to our ongoing investment in consumer research and insight, Dirk Mueller, Vice President of our Business Unit Sweet, explains why vanilla will always be our most important taste competency.

“Our commitment to vanilla runs throughout the whole company,” explains Dirk Mueller. “We need to cover the entire global demand, and that is why we are investing in both our natural vanilla sustainable supply chain in Madagascar, and our synthetic vanillin capabilities. A wide-ranging raw material portfolio is essential when it comes to meeting ever increasing, and changing, consumer preferences.”

Vanilla is so important because it is a world favorite. It is the signature ingredient in thousands of products, from ice cream to cereal, and we’re committed to ensuring that remains the case.

“One of the biggest changes I have seen over more than three decades in this business, is the speed required by our customers. Where once there was time for numerous iterations of a product as it was developed, this is no longer an option, which is why we work so hard to ensure we get everything for our customers right first time. Our ability to do that not only relies on our raw materials portfolio, but also our understanding of consumer preferences, our regional insight and our expertise across all things vanilla.”

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From our commitment to Madagascar to our ongoing investment in consumer research and insight, Dirk Mueller, Vice President of our Business Unit Sweet, explains why Vanilla will always be our most important taste competency.

“Our commitment to vanilla runs throughout the whole company,” explains Dirk Mueller. “We need to cover the entire global demand, and that is why we are investing in both our natural vanilla sustainable supply chain in Madagascar, and our synthetic vanillin capabilities. A wide-ranging raw material portfolio is essential when it comes to meeting ever increasing, and changing, consumer preferences.”

“One of the biggest changes I have seen over more than three decades in this business is the speed required by our customers. Where once there was time for numerous iterations of a product as it was developed, this is no longer an option, which is why we work so hard to ensure we get everything right for our customers first time. Our ability to do that not only relies on our raw materials portfolio, but also our understanding of consumer preferences, our regional insight and our expertise across all things vanilla.”

Vanilla is so important because it is a world favorite. It is the signature ingredient in thousands of sweet products, from ice cream to cereal, and we’re committed to ensuring that remains the case.

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