The Power of Vanilla Flavors 

Take a look in nearly any local bakery, supermarket freezer section, or even your own kitchen pantry, and there is one flavor that can be seen spanning across all of these areas: vanilla.

Since its introduction from Mexico to the world around 500 years ago, vanilla has become one of the most iconic and essential flavors ever.

Unsurprisingly, today, it continues to be one of the most popular flavors worldwide. From Ice cream and yogurt to cakes and cosmetics, vanilla is estimated to be used in over 18,000 different products

On top of being one of the most popular flavors, it’s also one of the most expensive. Requiring strict climate conditions, an extremely labor-intensive manual pollination process, and an average of three years for a single plantation to mature, vanilla is often ranked as the second most expensive spice in the world, behind only saffron.

Vanilla Flavor Cake

In recent years, a combination of political instability, extreme weather events in Madagascar, and increased demand for usage in a growing number of plant-based products, have resulted in unpredictable supplies of the already costly spice and its byproducts. 

Unphased by this, the overall vanilla market in the US alone is projected to grow from $1.435 billion in 2021 to $1.956 billion by 2028, at a CAGR of 4.5%. Adding to this, a separate report found that the global vanilla extract market is projected to grow from $4.94 billion in 2022 to $6.29 billion by 2029, at a CAGR of 3.52% over that period.

However, with food developers already working to reduce costs across the board, meeting the increasing consumer demand for the taste of vanilla presents them with a difficult choice.

But, what if you didn’t have to choose? Edlong’s range of characterizing vanilla flavors and expertise in vanilla’s most popular applications could be the win-win solution you’re looking for. 

Vanilla in Dairy 

Nothing is more synonymous with vanilla than ice cream. In fact, it’s believed that the French have been using vanilla to flavor ice cream as far back as the 18th century. A recent YouGov poll added credence to the “timelessness” of this combination when it found that American adults still ranked vanilla as their favorite ice cream flavor.

However, this perfect pairing of vanilla with dairy goes far beyond just ice cream.

Yogurt, milk, creams, and even plant-based dairy alternatives commonly and successfully utilize vanilla profiles. One major reason is that the smooth delicate character of vanilla balances incredibly well with the rich and creamy indulgence of dairy. 

Vanilla Ice Cream

It’s these complimenting characteristics that make vanilla, and often this combination with dairy, essential components in many bakery applications as well.

Vanilla: Flavor & Function

At Edlong, we recognize that a large part of what makes vanilla such an incredible flavor profile is its versatility. However, this is not limited to the vast number of applications that it’s suited for but also its functionality in those applications.

Emily Sheehan, Applications Manager, EMEA, believes this versatility makes vanilla “the king of characterizing flavors”: “Vanilla is powerful. It can be used in your development as the backbone for your whole flavour profile or even the star itself. In addition, this characterizing flavour can help other flavours sing and mask off notes too.”

This is excellent news for both developers in the better-for-you and plant-based spaces.

Vanilla Milkshake

“Vanilla is great because it gives you a sweet perception without the calories.” says Rob Adams, Chief Flavorist at Edlong. The sweet aromatics of vanilla can trigger an olfactory response that tricks the brain into perceiving a higher level of sweetness than is quantifiably there.

Along with assisting developers looking to reduce sugar but not taste, some vanilla flavors are also able to provide certain levels of masking for undesirable off-notes. 

Not only is this helpful for products fortified with protein and other supplemental nutrients, but it can be vital for plant-based dairy projects as well.

For example, adding one of our vanilla flavors to hemp-based milk could help mask unwanted bitter or vegetative notes, balance the overall taste profile, and create an indulgent and delicious characterizing flavor that meets or exceeds consumer expectations.

Beyond its strengths as a characterizing or masking flavor, Sheehan says, “Many of our [vanilla] flavours can also provide extra value to your product. For instance in plant based bakery the buttery or creamy notes along with the vanilla can enhance the over all development.  It can also add some of the lacking creaminess in that you find in low calorie or plant developments like ice cream.”

While vanilla is versatile enough to accommodate a wide variety of applications, this also requires an extensive range of vanilla profiles.

Finding the Right of Vanilla Profile

Despite the projected market growth and the increasing global demand for vanilla-flavored products, success always comes down to consumer satisfaction. In other words, is it delicious?

This can be complicated by the fact that your consumer’s ideal expectations for “vanilla” can differ from product to product or even by region.  

This can be complicated by the fact that your consumer’s ideal expectations for “vanilla” can differ from product to product or even by region.

In the US, for example, vanilla profiles tend to have more “candy-like” characteristics, with notes of marshmallow or cotton candy.  

Whatever your needs, Edlong’s team will help find the perfect solution for you. Whether you are looking for the authentic taste of pure vanilla extract or for a creamier profile to round out and balance your bakery items, our extensive range of characterizing vanilla flavors is sure to help reach everything vanilla can be.

About the Author: Julie Drainville, Sensory Manager

Julie Drainville leads all sensory functions for Edlong globally, maintaining a trained employee panel for sensory testing, and also collaborating with applications scientists and customers to run testing to meet project needs. Julie has an extensive background in food science including over 15 years in the sensory field, a degree from Purdue University in Foods, Nutrition and Business/Dietetics, a Master of Science in Nutrition Education from Rosalind Franklin University, and completion of the UC Davis Applied Sensory and Consumer Science Certificate Program.


Topics: Characterizing FlavorsDairy flavors
Resource Type: Article
Resource Region: EUUS

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