- The past few years have been volatile in regard to vanilla prices due to shortages and sourcing issues, including a small vanilla crop last year in Madagascar, where 85% of vanilla beans are grown, according to Food Business News.
- Ingredient manufacturers are implementing and exploring reformulations, including combinations with other natural flavors.
- In the short term, prices for vanilla extract will remain steady as the 2016 crop won’t be processed until early next year.
Vanilla extracts come in a variety of concentrations or folds. It is possible a more concentrated product, while more expensive per pound, will deliver a better cost-in-use, Aaron Graham, director of creative services for flavors, Bell Flavors & Fragrances, Inc., told Food Dive in an email. For example, moving from a 1 fold to a 3 fold vanilla extract is one option.
When prices are high, "flavors that rely less on extracts to deliver taste can be more cost effective," Graham said. Natural vanilla flavor combined with other natural flavors "extends vanilla from the bean by the addition of other natural flavor materials that do not come from the vanilla bean, but help deliver the desired taste."
While adding other flavors changes the label from a pure vanilla extract, it remains a natural option for manufacturers and consumers. Beans from Vanilla planifolia A have more than 250 compounds, many that contribute to the overall flavor profile. "Companies like Bell have the ability to deliver some of these notes by using a variety of other natural flavor ingredients, thereby extending the pure vanilla extract," Graham said. This process can also modify a flavor, increasing creaminess or boosting the sweet vanillin character, for example.