Vanilla India Producer Company Limited (Vanilco), a venture promoted by Indian vanilla farmers to protect the long-term interest of vanilla growers across the country, will soon launch a couple of vanilla-flavoured coconut products in the Kerala market.
MC Saju, director, Vanilco, told Business Standard that the company was in talks with the Coconut Development Board (CDB)) for making vanilla-flavoured coconut chips and tender coconut water.
“We are in the test production now and are hopeful of making it commercially viable. According to a CDB market survey, there is a good demand for coconut chips, but a major section of consumers dislike the taste of coconut oil, especially in non-traditional markets. This issue can be solved by adding the vanilla flavour. So, we are in the process of making vanilla-based coconut products with the support of CDB,” he said.
Vanilco will open retail outlets in major tourism centres for selling coconut products with vanilla flavour. The first such kiosk will commence operations by September at Munnar, followed by centres at Thekkady and Kumarakam.
Saju said that the kiosks would be of low-cost and temporarily traditionally-styled to attract tourists. The CDB has already agreed in-principle to finance the programme.
Meanwhile, shortfall in the production of natural vanilla in major producing countries like Madagascar and Mexico has raised its demand in the global markets. Vanilco has already received a number of enquiries from Europe, especially from Italy during the last couple of weeks. Vanilco currently has a stock of 11 tonne of vanillin, an extract of processed vanilla beans.
In just two months, the price of processed beans rose to $40-45 per kg from the earlier $ 25 per kg. A major chunk of the enquiries are through Mumbai-based exporters and global takers want to procure volumes up to 100 kg, he said.
“We are not in a hurry to clear the stock as the essence could be easily kept for seven to eight years. We had collected vanilla beans when the price was at its peak during 2000-01, 2002 and 2003 seasons. So, we have to get at least $100 per kg for making up our cost in the production of vanillin. The company is hopeful over the changed scenario in the vanilla market and is hitching its hopes on the high global demand,” Saju said.
In India, the vanilla crop season commences in October, but the production might be in the range of 30 tonne to 40 tonne only. Karnataka is the major producing state as of now and Kerala has very meagre production in districts like Kannur.