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In the past two years, since a host of big food brands led by Nestlé vowed to only use natural flavours in their products in response to consumer preference, vanilla prices have more than tripled to $450 per kg, according to a market report by Nielsen-Massey Vanillas.
Imitation vanilla accounts for 95 percent of vanilla flavourings in foods and is made from the same synthetic compound Vanillin, found naturally in the vanilla bean but derived from the chemical guaiacol and extracted from creosote or Guaiacum flowers.
The growing demand, coupled with recent smaller vanilla crops and fewer good-quality beans in Madagascar, where more than 85 percent of vanilla beans are cultivated, has resulted in a global shortage and new pressure on flavour companies to find a suitable alternative.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Daphna Havkin-Frenkel of Bakto Flavours in the U.S. said it has been a race to find the answer since large food companies begun to phase out synthetic flavourings.
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