vanilla comes from little appetizing sources
With real vanilla you can make a lot of money – the food industry prefer to use “natural” vanillin from other sources
Source: pa / dpa
The prices are incredibly high, the demand exceeds the production many times: Orchid blossoms deliver less and less the taste of vanilla. But the industry knows how to help.
Missernten and speculation prices for vanilla in the past year have massively driven up. According to the Hamburg trading house Aust & Hachmann sold the world’s largest producer of the per kilo, Madagascar, currently for $ 200 (176 euros). Since the end of 2014 the price tripled.
Reasons for the escapades were bad harvests and an artificially induced shortage, explained owner Berend Hachmann. “In, there has been much speculation.” Quantities were hoarded and not offered.
Desire for “natural”
The lack of valuable raw materials presents the food industry with a major challenge: consumers want “natural” ingredients in their products, no one likes to imagine large kettles with a brew of questionable chemicals. The large corporations and Hershey bowed to the pressure from and promised “natural flavors”.
However, the real vanilla from the pod would never be enough for all confectionery and spicy foods produced worldwide. Just around 50,000 kilos is the annual harvest of the popular flavor. Two billion orchid blossoms must be dusted manually.
Appreciation of the products
With many tricks, the food industry is now trying to get the desired vanillin without producing it on a purely synthetic path. Because the indication “natural” flavor among the ingredients is a product of enormous value – and can ultimately justify higher prices.
Natural raw materials legitimate manufacturers to use the coveted adjective. As a result, biotechnologists have developed various processes that enable cost-effective vanillin production. Spruce, for example, is one of these unexpected raw materials that can be turned into a vanilla aroma in a not-so-natural way. The giant molecule lignin in the wood can be converted into vanillin by oxidation.
Only in good vanilla ice cream is the consumer often still able to enjoy genuine vanilla
Also from curcumin, the yellow dye of the turmeric spice, vanillin is formed almost miraculously. Only three enzymes are required to initiate the chemical process. The three biocatalysts derived from a yeast, an edible mushroom (herb Seitling) and a tree fungus, reported the food chemist Udo Pollmer in .
Yeast with new genes
In Denmark, a yeast fungus from genetic engineers was equipped with the necessary genetic material. In combination with a bacterial, a fungal, a plant and even a human gene, the yeast becomes a biological fragrance factory – quite “natural”.
It seems that each country has found its own individual solution to the problem of natural matter. In Shanghai, researchers have equipped the Darmbacterium E.coli with foreign enzymes, which can also produce vanillin from extremely cheap starting materials. Ordinary glycerin should suffice here. In France, this is a food company allegedly also with old paper. In Japan one can even resort to the excrements of cattle.