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Vanilla: what makes the new flowering?

With reference to the first article in September 2016 about the vanilla market, we can today provide a snapshot of the market evolution for early 2017. Karine Costes (Head of buying at METAROM) and Renaud Bouat (Head of R&D at METAROM) summarise the situation to date and open a whole new realm of possibilities.

Can you give us an update on vanilla production?

Since last September, the situation has become more complex. In Madagascar, the world’s primary vanilla producer, available supplies remain inferior to the estimations given at the end of last year. Very high demand leads to a rise in vanilla prices.

On March the 7th, 2017, a violent cyclone hit the northern part of Madagascar.

However, the vanilla damages caused by the cyclone had a moderated impact on the farms, and we can anticipate an almost standard availability for the next crop. The missing beans, damaged, may be compensated by an expected better yield on non-hit surfaces. There is no guarantee that there won’t be another early harvest like there was in 2016.

METAROM can help you choose the right vanilla

There are dozens of vanilla typicality: vanilla notes, spicy notes, buttery notes or also woody notes. Vanilla pod typicality is particularly sought after.

Therefore vanilla is far from being universal and choices will be made based on the finished product but will also depend on the geographical area that the product is intended for.

In this respect, METAROM Group offers solutions to help you choose your vanilla flavouring.

Our products are particularly rich in taste with natural flavourings made from extracts. Our teams are present to help and advise you in the selection of profiles that satisfy the requested taste and economical requirements.

Take advantage of our Flavour class and come and meet our sales representatives, flavourists and regulatory affairs managers to custom design the many options for the optimisation of natural flavourings of vanilla.

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A culinary experience to remember

From an early age, the world of flavours and smells will in turn fascinate, intrigue and fill with wonder. They have the power to bring memories back to the surface and can call up past emotions.

With that idea in mind, we focussed on emotions that were felt during culinary experiences to come up with 5 aromatic universes.

We have committed ourselves to translate these culinary atmospheres that have been taken to the next level and showcased by our R&D team.

Amazement, Nostalgia or Happiness … Fresh, gourmet or spicy savours – dive with us into a culinary experience filled with emotions that won’t leave you indifferent!

If you’re looking for a quirky culinary experience full of ideas, then click here to contact us.

How about you? What do you feel?

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Ice creams & Caramels: an indulgent and winning duo!

For several years now, the ice cream market has continued to develop in Europe and it has held on to its position as a product of pleasure par excellence. Therefore, caramel is a natural fit for this basic trend: 10% of ice cream references launched this year focus on this indulgent flavour (Mintel, 2016).

On the shelves, the pleasure trend is reflected in products that are getting more premium and indulgent. Caramel comes in different flavours, and in some cases, it becomes a range in its own right: Dulce de leche, salted caramel, butter caramel and so on. To make ultra-indulgent products, it can be combined with many other ingredients (dried fruit, biscuits and sweets) in rich recipes, inspired by chocolate makers.

At the same time, pleasure and health go together in ice cream formulated with a yoghurt base or plant milk. Their wide availability targets consumers who are looking to balance their diet without having to compromise on taste. Caramel is the perfect answer for that touch of indulgence!

With our IC’BOX 2.0 discover our new ice cream concepts that were developed to inspire your future launches!

Let yourself be tempted by the Dark Peanut, a combination of dark chocolate ice cream and a peanut flavoured topping (allergen-free). Experience the 3 Caramels, a satisfying option for fans of this intense flavour. Test the Delicious Dairy Free, an almond ‘milk’ based ice cream, topped with an unctuous dairy free caramel.

Other proposals to discover in a culinary experience! Click here to contact us

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The Vanilla market: Key Points

Vanilla is popular taste with consumers worldwide, and the global market has seen significant fluctuations in recent years. A few months after the 2016 harvest, Karine Costes, Purchasing Manager at METAROM France, brings us up to speed on the topic.

Where do vanilla pods come from?

Madagascar is currently the world’s largest producer, providing 75% of global supply of Vanilla, (Bourbon Vanilla cultivated from the Vanilla planifolia plant in the Indian Ocean region). The remaining 25% of supply comes mainly from Indonesia, India, Uganda, and Papua New Guinea, and in limited quantities from Mexico and French Polynesia.

Why have buyers been keeping such a close eye on the vanilla market in recent years?

Around the year 2000, vanilla prices were particularly low, which meant that certain countries became disinterested in vanilla production. The emergence of new consumer markets (especially in China) placed an additional strain on the market. Demand outgrew supply, which led to further volatility; between 2014 and 2016, the price of vanilla pods had increased by 400%.

Is increased demand the only reason for these market tensions?

The gap between supply and demand also caused a spike in speculation from various operators in the supply chain. However, there were other reasons behind the fall in supply that contributed to the wild price rise.

As with every form of agricultural produce, climate plays a major role in vanilla production. Madagascar is often hit by tropical storms, and the 2015 harvest suffered as a result. The introduction of lower-quality pods to the marketplace also led to inflation. The fact that vanilla has become a “premium” substance has led to an increase in thefts; to protect their produce, farmers had taken to harvesting the pods before they were ripe. The harvest officially begins in June, during the Malagasy national festival, but was sometimes being carried out in April, which led to green, unripe pods containing low levels of vanillin appearing on the market. We must also note that the traditional vanilla production process is a long one, taking 6 months from harvest to shipping, 4 of which are required for drying. In order to circumvent this process, some suppliers were limiting the drying time and packaging the pods in vacuum packs. Humidity levels in the bags were too high, impeding preservation of the pods and causing mould problems. 

How can these issues be remedied?

In March 2016, the Malagasy government took steps to ban the sale of unripe pods and the practice of vacuum packaging. In our role as a buyer, we only purchase pods produced using the traditional method. When the pods arrive, we carry out a number of physicochemical checks in order to ensure the quality of the raw material that we’ll be using to create our flavouring extracts.

What are the prospects for the vanilla market in 2017?

The 2016 harvest obtained promising quantities, but the early picking will undoubtedly affect the quality of pods being placed on the market over the coming months.

For 2017, the vines began to flower at the beginning of September 2016, and early indicators are positive for the pod quantities expected for next year. Nevertheless, we will have to wait a few more months (particularly to see what occurs during the cyclone season in January – March) to get a clearer picture of what to expect from the coming harvest.

Finally, the emergence of new producer countries will likely lead to a less volatile marketplace in the future.

Did you know?

Vanilla flowers are pollinated by hand; flower by flower, the male and female reproductive organs are placed in contact with one another. The flower is very fragile and wilts rapidly, so the pollination is a highly delicate process that must be carried out over a very short timeframe in the month of September.

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Chocolates: Indulgence still top priority

Now an item for everyday consumption, chocolate confectionary ranges are continuing to diversify. From the most subtle flavours combined with premium ingredients, consumers now have a wide range of choice when it comes to treating themselves with chocolate.

The most widely-launched format for chocolate products in Europe is the tablet. This format has also become the most popular choice among French consumers. Thinner chocolate tablets (often labelled “dégustation” or “tasting chocolate”) combine premium placement with high-quality, original ingredients, and target chocolate lovers in search of refined and exotic flavour combinations. Thicker tablets are a more recent arrival on the market, and are often filled with fruit, dried fruit, biscuit or cereals to satisfy customers with bigger appetites.

White chocolate making its big comeback. With 2.5 times more new tablets launched in 2015, white chocolate is back and is being combined with new fruity flavours such as lime, blueberry and raspberry. “Blonde” chocolate is also on the rise; its flavour notes of salted butter caramel and biscuit appeal to both chocolate lovers and consumers eager to try new products.

Food companies are launching new formats to increase opportunities for consumption. “Mini bouchées” (miniature pastry cases) are ideal for snacks and treats, and also allow customers to control how much they consume. An extension of the same trend, confectionary products featuring chocolate-covered fruit provide consumers with a healthier alternative, and appeal especially to women.

To find out more about our Chocobox 4.0 or sample the chocolate tablets and sweets we’ve been developing in response to these emerging trends, contact us by clicking here.

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Beers Unique, Fashion, and Feminine!

For several years there has been a noteworthy resurgence in interest for beer. This is the result of the capacities for innovation of microbreweries and international and national brands. They have been able to arouse consumer curiosity with new varieties and flavours. A now trendy drink, beer is looking to win over new consumers. To continue their progressive growth, brewers are developing “unique”, “young” or even “feminine” beer.

A focus on trends

Brewers draw upon their expertise and their history to back up the quality and authenticity of their beer. Inspired by the current Craft trend, they’re now developing subtle brews using new varieties of hops, barrel fermentation, or even entirely new ingredients. The objective is to be able to differentiate themselves by offering unique and complex beers that stick in the consumer’s mind.

Brewers are also looking to appeal to “young” people’s tastes. This target market has a less mature palate and appreciates atypical and trendy notes that aren’t too bitter. “Spirit” flavourings like rum, tequila, vodka, and more recently whiskey have been seducing this consumer group.

Also, beer consumption amongst women is now on the rise. To meet their expectations, the range of flavoured 0% alcohol beer or Radler-type beers has broadened. Inspired by a trend towards well-being and naturalness, these light beers are characterised by refreshing notes, such as mango, peach, grapefruit, tea, elderflower, and mint.

Our suggestion box

In line with these current trends, the Metarom Group has developed 3 ranges. The sublime “Signature” range, defined by the finesse and subtlety of classic vintage beers, making them fully unique. The “Fashion” range, which is in keeping with alcohols that are currently trendy amongst young people. And finally, for women, the “Feminine” range, featuring three types of Radler with fruity and flowery notes.

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ACTI’MASK Pro, masking solutions dedicated to proteins!

Our new range of ACTI’MASK Pro masking flavours provides taste solutions for food processing companies wishing to integrate vegetable or animal proteins into their product ranges.

The ACTI’MASK Pro range has been developed in order to improve the flavour of protein-enriched products. These active ingredients intervene on two levels:

  • First, they provide an initial wave of volatile compounds that softens the aromatic profile by limiting off-notes from the protein.

  •  Secondly, they give mouthfeel and extend the length on the palate by coating the sensory receptors, which is what allows the masking agent to reduce bitterness perception in the finished product.

The range was developed using extracts from natural flavours. These solutions have been developed in order to provide gustative balance in product composition, thereby providing food processing companies with a wide range of options in terms of flavourings.

The METAROM Group offers a full range of masking agents for vegetable proteins (wheat, rice, peas, soy), as each vegetable protein is characterised by a particular type of off-note. With pea proteins, for example, organoleptic testing reveals that the ACTI’MASK Pro Pea masking agent is able to significantly reduce the bitterness vegetable notes in finished products.

The range also includes masking solutions for animal proteins:  Whey, for milk proteins, beef proteins and BCAA blends dedicated to dietetic products and sport nutrition.

Our aim is to allow consumers to take full advantage of these nutritionally-beneficial products, without having to compromise on flavour.

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The METAROM Group expands its caramel production into the US market

Now with 8 subsidiaries located around the world, the company is taking a major new step in its development by setting up a branch of its caramel production business, CARA’SENS®, in the USA.

The project was finalized via the acquisition of the industrial branch of the “Le Caramel” company, based in San Diego, California. The new subsidiary, named CARA’SENS USA, will give the METAROM Group access to a market of over 350 million consumers. This dynamic marketplace sees over 700 new caramel products launched every year in North America (source: GNPD, MINTEL).

CARA’SENS USA is already equipped with local technical and commercial expertise, as well as ample production capacity. Combining indulgence and creativity, CARA’SENS® will provide its American customers with a full range of sophisticated flavored caramels (coatings, fillings, etc.).

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Summer flavours for cider !

Discover a refreshing idea at our stand at CFIA in France, last March: a Tequila & Lime flavoured cider! This flavouring, which is already widely used in beer, perfectly matches the fruity and slightly bitter flavour of cider. A new fizzy drink with a low alcohol content is the perfect drink to refresh your consumers this summer. To request a sample, contact us by clicking here.

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Add caramel in your crunchy biscuits !

Our R&D teams have recently developed a new caramel recipe especially for the biscuit market. This caramel has been specially developed to meet the technical needs of this sector. Its water activity (aw) is below 0.4, which therefore avoids water being transferred to the biscuit and ensures good preservation of the biscuit over time. The caramel is made with non-hydrogenated and certified sustainable palm oil (RSPO- Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil), and its creamy texture is perfect for filling biscuits.

In conclusion, this caramel brings a touch of sweetness while maintaining crunchiness. Try it without delay! Contact us by clicking here.

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