Vanilla is used across our confectionery and ice creams, and we purchase around 1096 tonnes of natural vanilla flavor a year from Madagascar, one of the world’s leading producers of vanilla.

Sourcing vanilla responsibly

We carried out an in-depth field investigation to evaluate the risks and opportunities in our Malagasy vanilla supply chain.

The vanilla spice we purchase comes from the Sambava, Antalaha, Vohemar and Andapa (SAVA) districts of Madagascar. It is mostly produced by small growers in rural, sometimes remote, villages, where social and educational infrastructures are underdeveloped. We do not source vanilla directly, but through our Tier 1 suppliers.

Although we do not have category-specific requirements for natural vanilla flavor, our Responsible Sourcing Standard requirements (pdf, 2Mb) cover compliance with local and national regulations and laws, labor practices, environmental impacts and the creation of shared value. After carrying out an in-depth field investigation to evaluate the responsible sourcing risks and opportunities in our Malagasy vanilla supply chain, we created our ‘Responsible Sourcing’ strategy for the category. It seeks to establish traceability through the complex supply chain of exporters, processors and collectors back to the gardens or plantations, and seeks to ensure responsibly sourced vanilla volume through the implementation of best practices.

We also aim to drive industry-wide transparency. As such, we are publishing (pdf, 343Kb) the list of our Tier 1 suppliers along with the names and locations of the vanilla preparation sites.

Our main source of vanilla


Our progress

CSV - Vanilla - responsibly sourced


of our total vanilla purchased in 2018 was responsibly sourced

CSV - Vanilla - traceable


of our total vanilla purchased in 2018 was traceable to its source

Supply chain challenges and solutions

Labor-intensive harvesting

There are no bees in Madagascar to pollinate the vanilla flowers, so pollination has to be done by hand, and flowers last for only one day. This makes pollination very labor-intensive and time-consuming. Fluctuating income is also a major factor. About 80?000–100?000 Madagascan farmers rely almost exclusively on vanilla for their income. Sometimes, they harvest too early because they need cash to buy food, or because of a lack of access to resources and expertise. Together, these factors also mean that child labor is a risk.

Tackling child labor in the supply chain

Child labor is a risk within the vanilla supply chain, and one we are working hard to address by tackling the root causes. These include the fluctuating incomes of many farmers and the labor-intensive nature of vanilla farming, which can result in children being used in the labor force. As part of the , we are collaborating with the and the US Department of Labor on a four-year project to support sustainable and child-labor-free vanilla growing communities in the to improve working and living conditions for vanilla farming communities. Our activities include projects focused on:

  • Improving food security through the sustainable intensification of rice production and kitchen gardens.
  • Schemes for income diversification through activities such as beekeeping and fish breeding.
  • Improving access to water and sanitation in farming communities.
  • Building and refurbishing schools to provide better access to schools.

This rural development program is active in 32 vanilla producing villages, where there are 3100 traceable vanilla farming households. The education activities of the program benefits over 4158 children. In 2018, we built and refurbished one school.

A key component of the program is to mobilize households to take ownership and participate in community projects supporting key necessities, such as the construction of village water wells. We are currently investigating ways in which we could start offering the farmers training in good financial practices, to encourage better management of household income/expenses.

Our rural development program is getting to the root of challenges in the vanilla supply chain

After looking at the needs of vanilla growing communities in Madagascar, our rural development program in partnership with supplier aims to improve education, health and hygiene, and crop diversification.

Our education project

Our educational programs evaluate the needs of teachers and children in vanilla growing villages, monitor the construction and renovation of schools, and coordinate with local authorities, as well as working closely with teachers to organize training and prepare and distribute teaching materials.

Starting in 2018, the education project also provides training for teachers and headmasters on a range of topics.

Improving health and hygiene

Our project to improve health and hygiene focuses on making a practical difference to people’s everyday lives and changing attitudes about nurses and doctors. Often, families in the region won’t see a doctor when somebody is sick – for many reasons, including a lack of knowledge about diseases, long distances to health centers, fear of the consequences of serious diseases and an overall lack of trust in doctors. However, many of the illnesses observed in these villages are preventable, and are often the result of not drinking clean water.

Working with local and state health authorities, we organize training for farmers and villagers on the importance of clean water, focusing on how to use water wells, prevent waterborne disease and protect themselves against malaria. The training, which began in 2018, has already seen parents start taking their children to health centers for treatment.

The project’s village ambassadors

To help farmers diversify their incomes, the rural development program appoints village ambassadors to follow up on the program’s activities in their villages and get involved in training sessions. After receiving training from the program’s coordinators, the ambassadors follow up on village training programs – for example on education and health – and organize reminder sessions.

The impact of theft on vanilla farmers

As the price of vanilla is ever increasing and crime becomes a problem in Madagascar, the knock-on impact is that farmers cut their yields too soon, which results in a low-quality produce with diminished flavor.

To tackle this, we are working with to achieve full traceability of our vanilla beans. Givaudan is working with over 3?000 Ecocert-certified farmers to geo-localize their plot of land using a GPS system, enabling the supplier to estimate the annual production capacity of each farmer. This can help to detect cases of theft, by determining if a farmer sells more than their known estimated capacity. In cases of illegal activity, farmers are removed from the registered list of farmers in the collection network. Nevertheless, theft is currently difficult to detect. That’s why a strong local presence of field teams is key: it allows regular engagement with the producers and raises awareness of the negative impacts of early picking and vacuum packing.

Download our Creating Shared Value report

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