Vanilla is a paradox. One of the world’s most popular flavors is among the least studied. And that’s why Oren Zilberman, CEO of the Israeli startup Vanilla Vida, sees the largely uncharted territory of the great bean as a “blue ocean opportunity.” “Our vision is to be the major producer of premium-quality vanilla,” Zilberman says.
Vanilla Vida has developed proprietary greenhouse methods to control how and when the valued orchid blooms. By leveraging technology at every stage, from growth to product, Zilberman believes the company’s end-to-end innovation will springboard it into the global flavor market.
“Vanilla Vida is an A-to-Z company, growing, processing, and selling product,” Zilberman says. Zilberman’s strategy, shared by his Vanilla Vida cofounders, COO Shlomo Kadosh and CTO Raz Krizevski, is manifold. Advanced technology and metabolic solutions improve flavor profiles and boost the production of superior beans to create a more stable supply chain during challenging climate change.
With the tagline “Natural Vanilla for All,” Vanilla Vida also operates joint ventures with established Israeli farmers to cultivate and cure that product using proprietary methods.
Grown in tropical environments, the high-grade bean typically requires intensive labor, hand pollination, and a drying process of four to six months. Compare that to Vanilla Vida. The company boasts it produces five times as much vanilla per square foot and yields 80% more concentrated vanilla aroma and flavor per bean. It does so with 20% less growth time and 85% shorter curing periods.
Zilberman hopes to convert about 25% of the current synthetic market to natural by shoring up supply. Its customer base is not Israeli but Belgian, French, German, Spain, Swiss, and American B2B flavor houses that specialize in extracting the crop, supporting manufacturer production of commercial items relying on vanilla.
Because vanilla is a natural ingredient, it combines a lot of different aromas. “You have vanillin natural compound together with molecules of caramel and vinegar and chocolate flavor,” Zilberman says.
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