On October 13, 2014, Symrise opened an extraction facility for vanilla and is thus taking another important step in sustainable vanilla production in Madagascar. The investment at the Benavony site amounted to approximately € 3 million. With the plant, every step in the processing of vanilla can now be performed locally on the East African island for the first time.
Symrise is one of the most important suppliers of vanilla flavors in the world. The company has been active in Madagascar, where 80 % of the world’s vanilla is grown, since 2005. Dr. Heinz-Jürgen Bertram, CEO of Symrise, explained in his speech at the opening of the plant in Benavony: “This site is a further milestone in Symrise’s strategy of establishing the entire value chain for vanilla in its source country and in accordance with strict sustainability criteria.”
The 3,500 m2 facility offers production space for extraction, analysis, quality control and the proper storage of vanilla extracts. The site, which has been completely newly constructed, has a total of 36 ha of space. In the medium term, Symrise plans to process additional important raw materials here such as vetiver, an important and popular fragrance for producing perfumes.
All steps in processing, from fermentation up through extraction of vanilla, now take place in Madagascar. Dr. Jules Étienne Rolland, Minister of Economy, Madagascar, and Mr. Harald Gehrig, Head of the German Embassy in Madagascar, participated as special guests in the opening with further numerous guests from business and politics as well as national and international NGOs. In front of this audience, Dr. Bertram explained: “With this new plant, we are completing the cycle of responsible vanilla production on site. Our vanilla activities in Madagascar are the best evidence that business success and sustainability go hand in hand. Our investment of roughly 3 million euros is a clear statement that we are directly committed long-term to the country, its people and vanilla farming.”
Symrise works directly with vanilla farmers in northeastern Madagascar in order to ensure the sourcing of natural vanilla as well as guarantee its high quality and seamless traceability. The number meanwhile amounts to approximately 7,000 in 90 villages. This model of vanilla production is one of the most successful and far-reaching sustainability projects in the entire vanilla industry: More than 30,000 people benefit directly and indirectly in terms of income, health, education and training. In addition, Symrise reinvests 10 % of its yields from vanilla operations into Madagascar in the form of education and training, reforestation and the sustainable cultivation of various agricultural raw materials on the island.
“Benavony is a strong symbol for Symrise’s sustainable approach in Madagascar,” explained Alain Bourdon, Head of Symrise Madagascar, discussing the plant’s notable features. We produce the energy by burning acacia wood and bamboo. We purchase the bamboo from village residents – providing them with additional income. At the same time, residents are trained in the sustainable cultivation and harvesting of bamboo. As part of a Symrise reforestation program, in 2014 approximately 80,000 acacia and 50,000 intsia bijuga seedlings were planted. The same number of trees will also be planted in 2015.
In his speech, Dr. Heinz- Jürgen Bertram also recognized the efforts of the national and international partners Symrise cooperates with on the sustainable sourcing of vanilla. These include the German Society for International Cooperation and numerous NGOs.
Symrise currently processes about 200 tons of vanilla locally each year, which represents roughly 10 % of the annual harvest in Madagascar. Symrise also opened a new fermentation and storage complex in the Madagascan city of Antalaha in February 2014.