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Israeli-grown “dramatically better” vanilla is about to disrupt the industry

Vanilla Vida has developed proprietary greenhouse methods to control how and when the valued orchid blooms, delivering what it describes as a dramatically better bean positioned to disrupt the industry.

Oren Zilberman

Oren Zilberman, CEO of the Israeli startup, sees the largely, uncharted territory of the great bean as a “blue ocean opportunity”. And by leveraging technology at every stage from growth to product, he believes the company’s end-to-end innovation will springboard it into the global flavour market.

“Vanilla Vida is an A-to-Z company, growing, processing and selling product,” Zilberman says, an approach shared his Vanilla Vida cofounders, COO Shlomo Kadosh and CTO Raz Krizevski.

Advanced technology and metabolic solutions improve flavour profiles and boost production of superior beans to create a more stable supply chain during challenging climate change.

With the tagline “Natural Vanilla for All,” Vanilla Vida also operates joint ventures with established Israeli farmers to cultivate and cure that product using proprietary methods.

The goal is to disrupt the industry by driving down wholesale costs and drawing buyers among large-scale B2B customers who, in turn, provide essential ingredients to manufacturers of consumer goods.

And this will also help reduce dependence on synthetic vanillin produced from petrochemical raw materials.

The smell that everyone loves

The potential is exponential. The market currently generates more than $3-billion annually in global sales of dried vanilla beans and another $20-billion in applications of vanilla extract in foods and beverages. A lesser segment is devoted to perfume and children’s medicine incorporating natural ingredients.

To meet that demand, the industry produces about 2,500 to 3,000 tons of dried vanilla beans a year, compared to 41,000 tons of artificial vanillin, which commands a much lower price and therefore constitutes about 95% of current consumption of the beloved flavour.

“The smell that everyone loves so much is not coming from the natural ingredient,” says Zilberman. “Maple is the same: you have synthetic and natural. But maybe it’s a 50-50 percent split of the market versus 95% synthetic vanillin to 5% natural vanilla. That’s crazy.”

Only the pure bean is packed with what chefs call “caviar,” those tiny flecks contained within the skinny, wrinkled, moist dark beans.

“Natural vanillin you can find only in vanilla,” Zilberman says. “Using advanced metabolic solutions, Vanilla Vida can produce much more aroma, and especially vanillin levels, compared to our competitors.”

Oren Zilberman displays green newly harvested beans compared with the brown cured product ready for shipment. One kilogram sells for $250.

More beans, flavour and aroma

Grown in tropical environments, the high-grade bean typically requires intensive labour, hand pollination and a drying process of four to six months – usually under poor quality controls in developing countries.

Compare that to Vanilla Vida. The company boasts it produces five times as much vanilla per square foot and yields 80% more concentrated vanilla aroma and flavour per bean. It does so with 20% less growth time and 85% shorter curing periods.

Its customer base is not Israeli but Belgian, French, German, Spain, Swiss and American B2B flavour houses that specialise in extracting the crop.

Vanilla Vida matches current market prices of $250 a kilo. Yet, its more concentrated product means cost savings for customers.

“From the outside, our product looks like Madagascar beans,” Zilberman says. “But inside they contain much more aroma so our customers can buy 20 or 30% less vanilla bean to get the same amount of extract.”

Because vanilla is a natural ingredient, it combines a lot of different aromas. “You have vanillin natural compound together with molecules of caramel and vinegar and chocolate flavour,” Zilberman says.

Without genetic engineering, Vanilla Vida can navigate the bean to “the sensory space to generate more blocks of chocolate vanilla or caramel vanilla flavour — tailor-made to customer need,” Zilberman says.

“When you eat vanilla ice cream, you actually smell it through your mouth and not only through the nose. Our mind converts the smell to taste.”

Zilberman, who earned an MBA at Israel’s Open University, grew up in Moshav Tzippori in the Galilee, where his father manages 1,700 acres of cattle, sheep, olives, corn and wheat.

Banking on growing global demand for natural quality ingredients, and protected by patents in the US, Europe and Israel, Zilberman is currently expanding operations by growing beans in Israel….. Read the full article here

Vanilla Vida website, click here, and see more on the video below….

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