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Posted: March 6, 2007
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Simultaneously, synthetic options—particularly synthetic vanillin and ethyl vanillin—have experienced tightening pricing and supply. This is due in part to the closure of a number of manufacturing sites. In addition, Johnston points out a food safety “issue with a benzene pathway used to make the molecule, which has now fallen out of favor.”
“Vanilla is the number one flavor in the world, followed by orange,” says Johnston, who fully expects this to continue. He explains this by citing vanilla’s intangible aromatic/organoleptic associations of well-being, “a sense of calm” and peacefulness. “I think those are the features of vanilla that have resulted in it being the number one flavor. It’s not the [aspect] that we can [record] with discrete quantified statistics.”
When it comes to vanilla and food, Johnston half-jokes, “it’s easier to think of applications that don’t use it than do.” Indeed, vanilla is used in almost every type of food—yogurts, ice creams, confectionery, beverages and baked goods—either as a characterizing flavor or as a segment of a more complex flavor system. To call this an opportunity for flavor companies is a vast understatement.