“We can grow the vanilla anywhere, but the real challenge is to dry the pods”

“We control all processes in vanilla cultivation, and as a company we have a great opportunity to drive an innovation in the horticulture sector. We want to expand the vanilla market, but not lead it,” says Oren Zilberman, co-founder and CEO of Vanilla Vida.

Zilberman’s ears

Vanilla Vida, an Israeli-based ag startup, aims to continuously improve the yield of vanilla cultivation while operating CO2-free. Because the vanilla orchid usually grows in a tropical environment, in a jungle with large amounts of water, a lot of shade is needed. With the combination of green energy, a climate-controlled greenhouse, a closed environment and shade, the company can perfectly mimic the right growth conditions.

Exports to Europe and the United States
The idea came from one of the three co-founders, Shlome, who was researching the spice. He discovered that the vanilla orchid had not yet been grown commercially covered. Shortly after, he would immediately give the cultivation a chance in Israel. Backed by venture capital investors, the first seed-round investment started. One of the biggest investors is Kitchen Hub, the largest food hub in Israel.

Vanilla cultivation in the greenhouse

In terms of customers, the company focuses on the aroma and perfume industry and collaborates with distributors all over the world, who supply the hotel industry: chefs, restaurants, hotels and patisseries. The product is sold to these parties in the form of dry vanilla sticks. Most are exported to Europe, followed by the United States.

Vanillin covers 70% of the aroma of the spice, so it is the main focus during the drying process. Still, the company is trying to increase that percentage. “We know we can produce a high quality product and that’s why we want to give our customers the best of the best.”

Smart drying process
“We know we have competitors all over the world, but we do things a little differently. Our vanilla orchids are grown in the most efficient environment with fewer resources and a high density per square meter. Not only do we want to be the best grower, but we want “also to get the maximum efficiency potential out of our crops. It’s a game of optimization in all aspects. To be a good breeder you need to have a very advanced protocol to ensure that everything is done right,” explains Oren.

After harvest, the beans are still green and therefore not ready for use. Before the product becomes high quality, it must first be treated. The right aroma is obtained by drying with a certain spectrum. Thanks to a smart drying process, the company is able to convert 90-100% of the glycovanillin into vanillin and obtain three times more concentrated raw material compared to the market.

The climate-controlled greenhouse

Speed ​​up the drying process
According to Oren, there is very little data available on vanilla production because the market is limited, the products are expensive, and it is quite difficult to grow vanilla. “We can grow the vanilla anywhere, but the real challenge is to dry the beans. We use indoor curing based on metabolic data from drying the beans.”

Oren usually takes four to six months to dry vanilla, but the company can cut that period down to just two months. “We understand very well what goes on inside the beans. In addition, we can use enzymes naturally to activate certain flavors. It gives us different aromas. We offer a tailor-made product and currently we produce the most concentrated product around the world, according to evaluations. from large aroma and perfume companies based on sensory panels and analytical data. “

Dried vanilla

Production facilities in Europe
The company can bring vanilla production as close to the extraction plants as possible. Most vanilla beans are grown in Madagascar, so there are opportunities to set up production in other parts of the world. “As demand has doubled, a company can be sure that its production will find a market.”

According to Oren, a Software as a Service solution will not be on the market for the time being. For now, the goal is to build and operate unique vanilla production facilities in various locations around the world. For example, two locations in the United States and Europe will be built to reduce the environmental impact of local cultivation.

For more information:
Oren Zilberman (CEO)
Vanilla Vida

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