The Sustainable Vanilla Initiative (SVI) is a voluntary industry initiative, which aims to promote the long-term stable supply of high quality, natural vanilla, produced in a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable way, benefiting all partners along the value chain. The SVI is hosted by IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative in collaboration with US-based Sustainable Food Lab (SFL).
The SVI aims to improve vanilla bean farmers’ livelihoods and assure the long-term stable supply of high quality natural vanilla. The program liaises with vanilla exporters, producers, sector organizations and public authorities worldwide to progress issues of governance, traceability, labor rights and technical assistance to grower groups.
Hear more about the Sustainable Vanilla Initiative in this episode of the IDH podcast:
SVI was launched in 2015 in response to a shared sense of purpose from international food manufacturers and vanilla industry to improve sustainability and quality in vanilla production, with an initial focus on Madagascar, the world’s largest vanilla producing country. The initial objectives of SVI are to:
- Grow the supply and market for sustainable vanilla
- Contribute to better livelihoods for vanilla farming households
- Improve quality by significantly reducing early harvesting of green vanilla and addressing improper vacuum packing
The Sustainable Vanilla Initiative works closely with companies and multi-stakeholder sector organizations in vanilla origin countries to develop and support long term improvement strategies.
SVI members developed a program with CARE to support vanilla communities in Madagascar in their recovery from Tropical Cyclone ENAWO. The ‘Agriculture Recovery to North Eastern Madagascar in Response to Tropical Cyclone ENAWO’ is a one year program that focuses on helping households impacted by the Cyclone in the Antalaha area on agricultural recovery with home food production and local market crops.
Read here for more information about the program.
The Sustainable Food Lab has offered to financially manage the contributions for SVI as a straight pass through to CARE. To contribute please complete the form underneath and you will receive the donation paths via email.
While continuing to attract new member interest, the initiative currently has 20 members ranging from major consumer goods manufacturers and global flavors and fragrances companies to international vanilla bean traders and cooperatives selling vanilla extracts. Collectively, members represent over 70% of worldwide vanilla bean purchases and have initially focused their efforts on collaboration with Madagascar, which currently represents more than 80% of world supply.
Participating companies share a commitment to pre-competitive projects to improve quality, product traceability, good market governance and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers who form the foundation of the global vanilla bean trade.
Membership in SVI is open for all international companies in the vanilla supply chain committed to sustainability in vanilla. The current members of SVI are: Authentic Products, Barry Callebaut, Costco, DeMonchy Natural Products, Eurovanille, Firmenich, Fona, Frontier Co-op, General Mills, Givaudan, Kerry, Mane, Mars, McCormick, Mother Murphy’s, Nestle, Nielsen Massey, Prova, Queen Foods, Rodelle, Silver Spoon, Symrise, Touton, Unilever, Jogue, Watkins and Virginia Dare.
Although only launched in 2015, the SVI has been very active. Last year, it contributed to the development of a Code of Conduct for Malagasy vanilla market participants which was signed by Madagascar’s Prime Minister and more than 40 vanilla exporters.
In April 2016, the SVI organized a conference in Paris bringing together Malagasy government officials, representatives of Malagasy vanilla bean growers, collector and exporter groups as well as international companies to agree plans for market reform. This meeting was the first of its kind in more than 20 years. The outcomes included a joint declaration by participants to build a more vibrant market by providing structural incentives for consistently high quality product, sustainable market practices and improved vanilla grower livelihoods.
More recently, the ILO in collaboration with SVI was awarded a grant of USD 4 million by the U.S. Department of Labor to further pursue work with its Malagasy partners in the areas of sector governance, traceability, safeguarding against child labor and technical assistance to grower groups.
In Madagascar, the Sustainable Vanilla Initiative is working in a long term collaboration with the National Vanilla Platform and the National Exporters Association to strengthen sector governance, improve quality through better regulations on vanilla management and processing, and improve quality and returns to farmers through technical support to farmers on improved production and curing practices.