Vanilla’s association with ‘basic’ or ‘plain’ is undeserved. Most of us have memories that include the uniquely sweet, rich taste of vanilla - going for an extra scoop of vanilla ice cream on a summer day or heading to the pantry to get vanilla extract so Grandma could bake her famous cheesecake. And the history of vanilla is as complex as its flavor. Originally discovered off the coast of Africa in 1793, vanilla cultivation started on the Madagascar, Comoros, Seychelles, and Reunion Islands, known today as the Bourbon Islands.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and the global vanilla market surpassed USD 2.7 billion in 2020. Demand for vanilla is forecast to continue growing with a CAGR of 5.64% from 2021-2026. Vanilla is a leading flavor featured across categories. For example, producers make approximately 425 million gallons of vanilla ice cream annually in the U.S., representing 28% of the total ice cream produced each year!
The love for vanilla makes it a popular flavor and critical ingredient in many applications, from decadent desserts to delicious baked goods. Consumers searching for natural ingredients turn to vanilla because it fits their conscious lifestyles.
The time-intensive process of producing enough vanilla extract to meet the demand for this flavor led to the innovation of alternatives that we consume and use daily. Each vanilla flavor and extract option has nuances and complexities worth exploring to bring out the very best in food and beverage applications.