It claims the natural vanilla is deeper and richer in flavor with no chemical aftertaste and is high in antioxidants and can be used in baking applications, dairy, ice cream, beverages and confectionery.
'Clean label' descriptions
Speaking to BakeryandSnacks, Melanie Evans, creative director, Omega Ingredients said: “In 2017, we have been able to increase and expand our vanilla extract production with the opening of our Natural Product extraction plant in the UK.
"This means we can now run vanilla through many new, different and specialist processes, including but not limited to, Infusion, Percolation, Steeping, and Maceration and concentration with membrane technology.
"For example, our Madagascan Vanilla kiiNote is a 100% pure and natural vanilla extracted product. Each of these kiiNotes are fully traceable and come from a sustainable source. Companies that use this product will have the added benefit of being able to be described as “Vanilla Extract” with clean label declarations being very important to our clients.
"We also strengthened our vanilla offering with the creation of our SigNATURE Natural Flavours, a brand that has been produced in response to the consumer need for entirely natural and truly authentic tasting profiles.
"The SigNATURE range of flavors provides clients with a more cost-effective option to the 100% pure and natural extracts, whilst still achieving a full vanilla impact for the consumer’s enjoyment.
"In particular, we have seen demand in vanilla rise from the bakery category, where many companies who use large amounts of vanilla are looking for natural alternatives as the price of vanilla continues to increase.
"However, far from being limited to bakery, we are getting enquires from across the globe from beverage, confectionery, dairy and ice cream manufacturers. We’re set for a very busy 2018”.
According to Steve Pearce, biochemist and co-founder, Omega, customers are avoiding artificial flavorings in favor of all-natural ingredients in their food.
However, the price of vanilla has surged due to bad weather in Madagascar (where over 80% of the world’s vanilla supply is produced).
Pearce says Omega works with real vanilla beans to develop its natural vanilla extract which means it can produce ‘clean label descriptions’ on pack for example, saying its product contains “100% natural vanilla extract” or “Natural Vanilla Flavor”.
According to the Financial Times, vanilla bean prices have soared to more than $600 a kilogramme, up from around $100 a kg in 2015, leading many companies to look for alternatives to acquiring their own beans.
Cyclone Enawo, displaced almost 500,000 people when it hit the island off Africa’s east coast in March and underlines the risks of buyers being overly dependent on a leading country for a commodity.
Indonesia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea and the Comoros islands, are also suppliers, but have not been able to make up for the decline.
Vanilla pod producers are responding to higher prices by planting more but, given the time it takes for a plant to grow, output will not increase immediately.
Rollercoaster flavor business
Daphna Havkin-Frenkel, director of research and development, Bakto Flavors, said the rollercoaster flavor business has turned into a casino-like market.
“Bean quality is going down and prices are going up at an alarming rate. If vanilla is to remain the most popular and widely used flavor, this situation will have to change,” she said in an article for The World of Food Ingredients (March 2016).
“These are the reasons why the industry is looking for alternatives to natural vanilla, predominantly vanillin from natural sources and natural flavor from other natural sources which taste similar to vanilla.”