Vanilla supply chain resilience requires diversification of sources, VANEX stresses

Published: 23-May-2024

VANEX explains why companies utilising vanilla in their food and beverage products should consider Uganda as a source to ease pressure on the supply chain

The Association of Vanilla Exporters of Uganda Limited (VANEX) is raising awareness of the need to diversify vanilla sources to avoid supply chain disruptions, as well as spotlighting the unique benefits of Ugandan vanilla.

“Government interference, adverse weather events and other unexpected impacts can all affect the vanilla supply chain,” VANEX Executive Director Prossy Tumushabe said. “Food brands and chefs can stabilise their supply and increase business flexibility by sourcing vanilla from multiple countries of origin.”

With quality on par with Madagascar-sourced vanilla, a unique flavor profile, an ideal growing climate and a hands-off government, Uganda is a natural option for brands seeking to diversify their vanilla supply. Ugandan vanilla can offer:

  • The same cultivar as vanilla from Madagascar with no discernable difference in quality
  • High vanillin content of up to 4.5% 
  • Sustainably grown without the use of pesticides, fungicides, tilling, or slash-and-burn practises
  • The only place on Earth that experiences two vanilla crops per year — offering a regular, dependable supply 
  • Landlocked geography shields crops from destructive weather events
  • Open trade without government price interference.

“Diversifying the country of origin for vanilla isn’t top of mind for most brands because they haven’t experienced a disruption yet, but expanding to multiple sources is a great way to future-proof supply,” said Craig Nielsen, Vice President of Sustainability for Nielsen-
Massey Vanillas, a US-based flavour house.

Furthermore, Uganda is positioned to offer vanilla at the volume and specifications required by customers of all sizes.

“Uganda exported 250 metric tons of vanilla in 2022 and is positioned to meet increased demand as the market requires,” said Abubaker Mulindwa, managing director of Natural Extract Industries, Uganda. “Plus, Ugandan vanilla is available in a variety of grades
and specifications, including Organic Certified, Fairtrade Certified, Rainforest Alliance Certified, HACCP Certified and more.”

The Ugandan vanilla industry collaborates with organisations around the globe, including VANEX; the Ugandan Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries; Catholic Relief Services; the Sustainable Vanilla Initiative; and the United States Department of
Agriculture, to enhance vanilla quality and make Uganda a world-class sourcing origin.

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