The Other Vanilla Crisis – Natural Vanilla Mislabeling
As vanilla prices rise and supplies decline, food and beverage manufacturers seek less expensive alternatives to natural vanilla. These efforts present a bigger potential threat to the Vanilla industry than cyclones, political coups or disease. In the US, which consumes roughly 60% of the world’s natural vanilla, there is a Standard of Identity for Vanilla that provides a specific recipe for foods labeled natural vanilla. Unfortunately, widely varying interpretations of the Vanilla Standard of Identity result in little consensus on what is required for natural vanilla labeling.
This presentation will begin by exploring the incentives for mislabeling. Then it will examine the true intent of the Vanilla Standards by presenting several subsequent letters of explanation provided by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These explanatory letters, although previously not widely discussed or distributed, clearly identify what is required for foods and beverages to include a reference to natural vanilla on their labels. Finally, the presentation will explore specific actions that can be taken to increase awareness and compliance with the Vanilla Standard of Identity.
Rick Brownell has worked in the Flavor and Fragrance industry for over 35 years. He joined Virginia Dare as Vice President Vanilla Products in 1997. Prior to that, from 1982 through 1997, he worked for Bush Boake Allen in various sales and marketing assignments. From 1976 to 1982, he worked for Union Camp Corporation in finance.
For the past 25 years Rick has concentrated exclusively on Vanilla and is recognized as one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Vanilla Market. He has been a long time leading proponent of the critical need for economic sustainability for Vanilla growers, particularly in Madagascar. Rick recently retired from full time employment, but remains actively involved in the Virginia Dare Vanilla business in an advisory role.
Rick has an MBA from Dartmouth College and an AB degree from Middlebury College. Rick and his wife Lindy have three children, three grandchildren and live in Ridgewood, New Jersey and Harborside, Maine.