Found in every pantry, and an essential component of irresistible baked goods, vanilla is a delicate crop that requires careful tending.
Vanilla grows in tropical climates such as Madagascar, Indonesia and the Pacific island of Tonga. A variety of orchid, vanilla is a much sought after product, and a sensitive and labour intensive crop. For vanilla plants to thrive and produce a commercially viable crop, specific conditions must be met at the farm level. The flowers are delicately hand pollinated on the day the flower opens. The vanilla pods are harvested when just ripe, and then dried and carefully cured to fully develop their flavour and aroma.
Like many products traded in the global market, vanilla experiences huge price fluctuations. This has a profound impact on vulnerable farmers who depend on vanilla production for their livelihoods. Additional pressure comes from the competition with synthetic vanilla, which is less costly and labour intensive to produce, and is widely used by manufacturers in a variety of products.
Fairtrade supports vanilla farmers to build strong and reliable agricultural businesses, and form long-term relationships with buyers. As a result of their efforts, Fairtrade farmers are able to invest in the social, environmental and economic development of their communities.