Sustainable vanilla cultivation

Mexican Vanilla

Vanilla is a vital ingredient that is widely used in many industries, including food, cosmetics, and perfume. 80% of global vanilla production is concentrated in Madagascar, but did you actually know that Mexico is the country of origin of the vanilla? Cocoa and vanilla are Mexican achievements that have enriched the kitchens of the world for centuries. The Aztecs treated cocoa beans like coin & since centuries the finest gourmet's vanilla is grown here and produced through elaborated procedures in traditional ways. Here, in the heart of Mexico, the history of quite a special pleasure begins.

Mexico, the cradle of vanilla cultivation

The vanilla originally comes from Mexico & is also known by the Nahuatl names ixtlilxochitl or tlilxóchitl (black flower), in Totonac as xanath or cacixanatl by the Aztecs who already used it to soften the bitter taste of chocolate. The Totonacs, inhabitants of the coasts of the Gulf of Mexico, were the first to know about vanilla cultivation. The Totonacs kept the monopoly of vanilla cultivation until the 19th century, because all efforts by Europeans to grow vanilla failed everywhere except in it´s country of origin.

Thanks to the Frenchman Louis XIV, the Sun King, who was enthusiastic about this exotic spice, vanilla conquered the traditional cuisines of Europe. But all initial attempts to cultivate vanilla outside of Mexico were doomed to fail. For a long time, only Mexican bees were able to pollinate vanilla flowers. In 1837 the Belgian botanist Charles Morren discovered that the vanilla flower is pollinated by the stingless Melipona bee, which occurs only in Mexico, obviating natural pollination in other countries. But it was not until the 12-year-old slave,Edmond Albius (1829 – 1880) on the island of Bourbon, invented hand pollination of the orchid blossoms that vanilla has been grown in many tropical areas of the world.

Sustainable vanilla cultivation in Mexico

Vanilla-Trade's goal is to develop a sustainable, traceable, and high quality supply chain that respects the integrity of natural ecosystems and helps to improve the living conditions of the vanilla growing communities established throughout Mexico. We encourage the organization of cooperatives, organic farming, conservation of tropical forest, as well as, fair prices and community development. This direct-trade model allows us to pay farmers a premium price for exceptional vanilla beans, and still provide competitive prices for our customers.

In keeping with its vision and mission and to achieve its sustainable development objectives, Vanilla-Trade is committed to several points regarding its partners, its employees and its customers.

Develop sustainable vanilla production in agroforestal environments as a primary or secondary cash crop , to ensure a stable income for producers in order to improve their productivity & income.

Organize and structure producer associations (organization,providing know-how, plants & tools, training, quality by good practices, organic farming).

Ensure producers are paid a fair price for their products by offering a base price and a participation in the actual sales price.

Traceability by installing a system which makes the vanilla clearly traceable from the farming area to the final destination.

Reserving a percentage of its turnover to sustainable conservation actions of the protected areas.

Foster interaction between producers, distributors, consumers and environmental protection stakeholders.

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