JULY 2021 | Expert insights for growing your business.

Unfolding the Details about Vanilla Extracts and Flavors for Food & Beverage

Vanilla’s influence is vast.  From the economic impact on the 15 countries cultivating beans to the value its rich taste adds to foods & beverages, vanilla is much more than a basic flavor.

  • Like a fine wine will bring flavor notes from the region where the grapes grew, vanilla beans carry the tastes and smells of their country of origin. Each region’s soil, climate, harvesting, and production methods will affect the flavor. Preparation methods also influence flavor delivery.

This month’s FlavorSum Insights examines various vanilla solutions and offers guidelines to help you choose the right option for your application.

Market Spotlight: Vanilla

Depending on the market definition, estimates of the global vanilla market range from slightly less than USD 1 billion to more than USD 2.7 billion. Growth rate forecasts also vary, with most predicting a CAGR around 5% over the next 5 years.

  • Vanilla is a mainstay across the food and beverage landscape. Since 2017, 4 to 5 percent of NPD in North America features vanilla, making it the #2 flavor after chocolate, according to Mintel’s GNPD and Innova’s New Product

Madagascar is the primary region for vanilla, producing more than 80 percent of the global supply. But buyers also source vanilla from regions like Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. With a 5-year growing cycle, rising interest in natural vanilla sources, and external factors affecting production, vanilla is a highly volatile commodity.

In the near term, industry experts anticipate that the increase in high-quality production of vanilla will keep pace with demand and provide price stability.

Category in Focus: Power of Vanilla with Consumers

Although vanilla isn’t a universal consumer favorite, the uniquely sweet, rich taste is almost ubiquitous, showing up in dairy, bakery, snacks, candy, and cereal products.  FlavorSum proprietary research reveals that people link vanilla to:

  • Nostalgia
  • Comfort
  • Indulgence
  • And fun

making vanilla a versatile flavor profile for chefs and food innovators.

  • More than 30 percent of foodservice menus feature vanilla, most often as a dessert or breakfast item.
  • 12 percent of recipes include vanilla as an essential ingredient in popular and trending recipes such as:
    • Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake
    • Softbatch Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies
    • No-Bake Energy Bites
    • Glazed Strawberry Peach Muffins
    • Vanilla Caramel Cream Pie
    • Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Vanilla also pairs with the robust taste of coffee, sweetens refreshing beverages, and complements darker alcohols like beer or whiskey.


Finding Your Vanilla Solution

While vanilla concentrations can be as high as 10x or even 20x through dilution of oleoresin, most pure vanilla extract is single fold (1x).

  • 2x or double-folds deliver twice the level of vanilla bean extract but mirror single fold’s water and alcohol content.
  • And 3x or triple-folds offer an intensity reflecting three times the level of extractives.

Choosing a multiple-fold vanilla extract helps product developers adjust intensity in their food or beverage application. But highly concentrated distillation can destroy some of the aromatic substances of vanilla flavor, reducing appeal in specific applications. For example, without vanilla’s creamy, warm, comforting scent, bakery items may become less memorable to customers.

More than 100 species of vanilla are available worldwide, but only a few become an ingredient in extracts.  Efforts are underway to diversify vanilla plants and broaden usage, but until more varieties are mainstream, flavor chemists can create vanillas that feature caramel, nutty, smoky, or citrus notes. Flavor science can also capture regional vanilla nuances.

Alternatives that feature vanilla tastes are widely available with labeling options that include:

  • With Other Natural Flavors (WONF) Vanilla
    • Vanilla WONFs contain vanilla and include flavor notes from other natural sources that can provide unique profiles.
  • Natural and Artificial (N&A) Vanilla Flavors
    • N&A flavors incorporate vanilla and other flavor solutions to deliver delicious tastes for specific applications.

Product development objectives, budgets, and brand positioning influence the decision about vanilla extract or flavors.  Because the complexities associated with buying and producing pure extract are likely to continue, having a sourcing strategy and a reliable flavor partner can help you meet your goals.

FlavorSum’s Approach to Vanilla Extracts

Our 3-step process for vanilla extracts starts with beans from Madagascar:


Vanilla Preparation

When the extraction period ends, we remove bean matter using filtration. Finished vanilla extract rests in aging tanks to mature and develop the sweet, rich Bourbon taste consumers love.


Dynamic Extraction

We transfer chopped beans into a meshed basket and place them into a stainless-steel vessel. Then submerge the beans into an alcohol and water solution to gently extract the unique and delicate top-notes for ideal flavor delivery.

Final Filtration

When the extraction period ends, we remove bean matter using filtration. Finished vanilla extract rests in aging tanks to mature and develop the sweet, rich Bourbon taste consumers love.

Flavorsum’s vanilla extracts are available in Natural and Organic formulas to meet labeling requirements and provide a delicious taste for your customers to enjoy. Our portfolio includes a range of intensities for a variety of applications. To find the right vanilla solution for your food or beverage, contact the FlavorSum team!

Welcome to Our New Team Members

With pandemic-related restrictions easing and consumers returning to more normal behaviors, demand for food & beverages is growing.  As a result of the changing business conditions, we’ve seen a significant increase in the need for flavor solutions.  We’re expanding to keep pace and welcome our newest team members:


Jeryn J.

Jalen H.

Joseph O.


R&D / Quality

Sheritta G.

Jared C.


Sarah C.


Lindsey M

Jeremy H.

In the August issue of FlavorSum Insights:

How RTD Cocktails are Bubbling Up Refreshing Success with Consumers
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