Flavor Insight: Vanilla by the Numbers

October 16, 2017
Dessert Flavor Ingredients Vanilla

People often describe something “plain and simple” as vanilla, but it is far from ordinary. In fact, it is a continual favorite across the globe. Despite high cost and a shortage of the preferred variety (bourbon,) it is a main flavor or background note in many recipes and products.

This report will focus on new products, trends and innovation using vanilla, but for more information about the complex issues at play with vanilla profiles, labeling and sourcing, see our recent special report here.

Let’s take a closer look at the various forms of vanilla on the menu, in social media and new product introductions.

Print & Social Media Highlights

There are several mentions of vanilla in social media. Here are some of the highlights.

• While browsing Pinterest, vanilla pins were spotted most commonly in the beverage and dessert category, but vanilla was featured in almost every food category and in every combination imaginable. We spied vanilla bean pistachio cake, vanilla chai cheesecake bars, vanilla lavender limeade and vanilla cinnamon candied almonds. Additional recipes include peach vanilla jam, honey vanilla fruit salad and vanilla chai banana pancakes.

• Tweets mentioning vanilla including one by @pollypantries with a video of lavender vanilla no-churn ice cream with gold dust. Also spotted was a tweet from @ilovepuremaple with a recipe for homemade strawberry vanilla chia jam.

• On Food.com, 1,711 recipes appear when you search for vanilla. These recipes include no bake vanilla orange balls, vanilla sweet potatoes, raspberry vanilla refrigerator oatmeal, vanilla bliss summer cocktail and Asian spiced chicken with vanilla apricot sauce.

We are also spotting vanilla in print publications. Here are some of the highlights.

• In July 2017, the Today Show had a feature on healthy mocha and vanilla iced coffee. Adding a splash vanilla almond milk eliminates the need to fill your coffee with excess sugar and fats, but still keeps your morning cup of joe full of refreshing flavor.

• Also in July 2017, the Chicago Tribune featured a new and improved way to make Affogato, a traditional Italian dessert. They suggest chilling the glass as well as the espresso, so that you avoid lukewarm coffee soup, and in turn get a delicious contrast of hot & cold, sweet & bitter, vanilla & espresso.

Vanilla: The Perfect Bean

Signaling the start of a very laborious process done for centuries, the vanilla orchid is a rare but beautiful sight. These delicate orchid blossoms only open for one day each year, and only for a few hours, so hand-pollination during this time is essential. Once pollinated, pods take roughly 6 weeks to reach full size and an additional 8-9 months to reach complete maturity. The hand-picked mature pods must then be cured which starts with boiling the beans then a 3-6-month sun-drying period. This drying period allows the plants to “sweat” which releases the powerful aromatic compounds everyone recognizes as vanilla. -Source: Food Lover’s Companion

Vanilla on the Menu

We're seeing 14,650 mentions on menus nationwide, with casual dining as the top restaurant segment.

• Mango Panna Cotta with Vanilla Crème Anglaise – Café Del Rey
• Vanilla Cream Cheese Pancakes – Country Kitchen
• Almond Apple Pave with Vanilla Ice Cream – The River Café

Vanilla Global New Product Introductions

Globally, we spotted 20,517 new products with dairy-based ice cream and frozen yogurt topping the sub-categories

• Brazil: Sweet Vanilla Banana Chips
• UK: Rooibos, Cocoa & Vanilla Tea with Ginseng
• Denmark: White Chocolate with Madagascan Vanilla

Vanilla North America New Product Introductions

In North America alone, we see 3,275 new product intros, with significant growth between 2015 and 2016.

• Just Craft Soda Pear & Vanilla Flavor Artisanal Soda
• Skinnygirl Vanilla Bean Sundae Nutritional Shake
• Munk Pack Peach, Chia & Vanilla Oatmeal Fruit Snack


Let FONA’s market insight and research experts translate these trends into product category ideas for your brand. They can help you with concept and flavor pipeline development, ideation, consumer studies and white space analysis to pinpoint opportunities in the market.

Our flavor and product development experts are also at your service to help meet the labeling and flavor profile needs for your products to capitalize on this consumer trend. We understand how to mesh the complexities of flavor with your brand development, technical requirements and regulatory needs to deliver a complete taste solution. From concept to manufacturing, we’re here every step of the way.

Contact our Sales Service Department at 630.578.8600 to request a flavor sample or visit www.fona.com.

Sources: Mintel GNPD, Mintel Menu Insights, Food Lover’s Companion, Pinterest, Twitter, Food.com, Today, Chicago Tribune