Diversifying Country Of Origin Is Key To Vanilla Supply Chain Resilience


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Kampala, Uganda — The Association of Vanilla Exporters of Uganda Limited (VANEX) is seeking to raise awareness of the need to diversify vanilla sources to avoid supply chain disruptions.

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

The group maintains that 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:

  • The same cultivar as vanilla from Madagascar with no discernable difference in quality.
  • High vanillin content of up to 4.5 percent contributes a bold flavor with notes of cacao and leather from the nutrient-rich soil.
  • Sustainably grown without the use of pesticides, fungicides, tilling, or slash-and-burn practices.
  • 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,” says Craig Nielsen, vice-president of sustainability for Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, a U.S.-based flavor house. “Uganda isn’t as well-known in the vanilla industry yet, but it’s emerging as a world-class source.”

“Uganda exported 250 metric tons of vanilla in 2022 and is positioned to meet increased demand as the market requires,” says Abubaker Mulindwa, managing director of Natural Extract Industries, Uganda Ltd. “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 organizations 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.