Standardises honey-blended extract; to ink pact with Spices Board in Oct

Vishwanath Kulkarni

Treat for taste buds

Indian food/ice-cream

industry consumes about 600-700 tonnes synthetic vanillin mainly imported.

In the

absence of domestic demand, the entire vanilla production is offloaded in the global market.

India is

currently the sixth largest exporter of the spice.

Coonoor, Sept. 18

Come January, natural vanilla will titillate taste buds of ice cream lovers for first time in India. The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) has come out with an ice cream using natural vanillin as flavouring agent.

"This natural vanillin-based ice cream is likely to be commercialised by December-January," said the Spices Board marketing director, Mr S. Kannan. The Spices Board, Mr Kannan said, expects to get into a supply and pricing agreement with NDDB sometime in October this year for supply of the natural vanillin extract.

"Based on the natural vanillin extracts we had supplied, NDDB has developed a flavour profile. Normally, the flavour profile of naturally extracted vanillin differs from that of synthetic vanillin, that is widely used at present and requires standardisation," Mr Kannan said.

Flavour profile

The NDDB has standardised the honey-blended natural vanillin extract, which matches the flavour profile of synthetic vanillin, for mass usage, Mr Kannan said, adding, "matching flavour profile holds the key for wide customer acceptance."

It is estimated that the Indian food/ice-cream industry consumes about 600-700 tonnes synthetic vanillin, which is mainly imported.

The Spices Board is also evaluating other possibilities of using natural vanilla in medicines among other things, Mr Kannan said. Vanilla cultivation had caught the fancy of country's planters, as the export realisations from the product are high.

Domestic demand

In the absence of domestic demand, the entire vanilla production (without much of value-addition), estimated between 150 and 200 tonnes is offloaded in the global market. Lack of large-scale units for extracting vanillin, the main flavouring compound, is said to trigger the export of the cured beans.

India is currently the sixth largest exporter of the spice. The US alone accounts for two-thirds of the world imports, followed by the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom and Germany.

A recent study by Exim Bank on vanilla's potential in the country had recommended enactment of laws for mandatory use of natural vanilla concentrate in the ice creams. The study has suggested labelling of products to distinguish the use of natural or synthetic vanillin in ice creams.

It has identified issues hampering vanilla cultivation that include using synthetic import substitute when the local vanilla bean is in great demand in the global markets and farmers' dependence on export price realisation alone in a highly competitive market.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 19, 2006)
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