We supply straight from Madagascar, available in quantities starting at 1kg, at wholesale discount rates.We also supply mega orders for cosmetic, extract, food, and fragrance companies of the top vanilla, with inspection, visits, and sampling welcome.
Vanillin Content and Pod Quality Score ranks MVC as cultivating the best of the best. Our beans have exceptional vanillin content, the top quality in the island and we feel the world now, and cured and matured PROPERLY. (See below)
To become a distributor for MVC, please contact us. We welcome any new friends in the vanilla business!
MVC-UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD VANILLA QUALITY STUDY
MVC Vanilla – Done Right, Spoken Straight, Tasting Great
Vanilla is cultivated in Mexico, Madagascar, Uganda, Indonesia and some other countries, though Madagascar (Madagascan) vanilla is widely considered the best and the most sought after flavor. It really isn’t just us saying this. – The soil, method, and end taste of Madagascar (“bourbon” – which refers to the bourbon isles, which refers to Madagascar and its minor archipelago only,) vanilla is just about as different from the other origins in taste and end flavor and quality as apples are to oranges. – They just look the same visually as members of the planifolia species (Tahitian is not the same species.) The origins of vanilla, despite attempts at advertising parity, do not smell or taste remotely alike. In Madagascar in the vanilla coast as of the 2000’s there is little unemployment or joblessness unlike virtually anywhere else in Madagascar, especially the capital. In Antalaha where the MVC Vanipro and Excelia facilities are it is actually difficult to find workers as the salaries are very competitive and wages are high. Other places throughout SAVA such as Vohemar, Andapa, Ampanefena, Antsirabe-Nord, Sambava, and Antalaha down to the East Cape (“Cap Est”) and Marojejy and Maronsonetra Forest have nearly the entirety of the population working in the vanilla business, and this region supplies most the world.
MVC’s allies, community farmers, and Antalaha family intake about 1 tons of green beans a day during the start of the harvest season in summer, and about 5.8 tons of green beans go into 1 ton of finished, excellent, top quality beans. For very dry beans the ratio is closer to 6-7. When companies skimp on quality they as one technique try to squeeze 4-5 tons. In Madagascar in the cities and villages spanning from Vohemar to Antalaha, everybody is around vanilla from the time they are young, and it is indeed a culture more than a business, with too many nuances to explain even in years of formal education elsewhere. The best vanilla overseers and managers we know in Madagascar have often never been to any primary school nor any school of any kind, and command the most respect and experience nevertheless, as well as riches and reputation. Vanilla is an art more than a business – and here is a culture more than a commodity.
There are several things that help us qualify which beans are which. The most common are length, moisture content, vanillin content and the general look. Grade A beans are usually from 5 to 7 inches in size, they have fewer splits, are semi-moist and very pliable, and have moisture content of around 25-35%, sometimes a little lower for rouge range.
Grade B beans are not as good-looking and may have many splits, curves, and sometimes they are drier. But still both of these grades can have the same amount of vanillin – the most important component of vanilla beans, hence the price difference is very little especially in recent times, as both Grades are valuable and sought after. No actual body or organization assigns grades officially for vanilla – so don’t be fooled by purveyors of grade “A” beans out there who sell outdated or stale, inferior cuts!
All beans prepared properly in Madagascar spend a daily exercise regime rolling in jute and heat up nestling in and baking in their own perfume and aroma expression. The tarps and jute rolls keep them evolving in flavor profiles, towards the excellence that really makes grade A, and keeps them from dust. Mold for example cannot happen in beans that spend even 10 minutes in this regime properly, and are killed by the hot roll.
Cuts are faster and machinized, being generally the ugliest and shortest and most split beans, often further snipped by our machine on a customer’s demand. Caviar is made from splits post-boiling and very expensive. One ton of green beans has less than 10% of weight in actual caviar (seeds)!
The reality of how many beans per kg does vary, but in general the red or “rouge” (drier and fox-colored) vs. black (“noire”) qualifiers ascertain less humidity and the following target bean count, noting that red has more surface density:
For brown and boiled beans (after they are boiled to a brown from the green beans that come in initially,) too much time without sunlight (for example, rain for days) results in changes of the vanilla flavor profile in the sun-starved beans that can critically weaken the final taste and the natural evolution of the aroma, and so a rigorous discipline laced with art of observation during the vanilla curing process is what makes perfection.
Once beans get to around 40% humidity they go through a cycle of massage (yes, really,) sleeping under lock and key in the cool dark indoors, morning sava sun, afternoon shade and rolled up to retain warmth and protect from rain…and that night back to massage, again > repeating the cycle until dry and beautiful. Vanilla beans love the sun and get hot to the touch like baked bread after the morning, chilling out and relaxing in shade in the evening.
Taking care of vanilla all the way through to excellence, quite literally, needs as much attention care and observation as an infant. – There is an art to it – and proper artists pull out the beautiful smell and texture in the final and finished cured bean. This is why it may still, after thousands of attempts and millions of investment, be impossible to replicate in a lab. For example, when you massage a bean, a human has to feel and see the grooves and know where and how to massage all the way along the length of the pod – a few strokes for shape and quality and to balance of oils and vanillin distribution along the skin.
The heat in SAVA is best, while curing vanilla is impossible in the rest of Madagascar and most of the rest of the world. The reason is more than the weather and soil – All vanilla during this process starts to absorb and assimilate parts of its environments in its end taste, and take on the characteristics of its setting during curing – vanilla beans even suck in perfume and cologne and emulate a little of its flavor and scent if you wear it while working! – Chanel #9 flavored vanilla is molecularly possible!
Cuts? – Cuts are ok for beans used by huge industrial extract makers, while “Cuts Curing” (cured cuts) are different – they are the best of the best of the A beans, cut by our machine for an input specialized, such as for expensive cosmetic companies. Cuts curing and cuts are not the same. Special crystallized vanilla beans from Madagascar and the Comoros are available once per year, with the highest vanillin content occurring in nature, and are the most expensive product we carry. Inquire for information about any of the above.
The MVC Group is certified not just as legacy producers (farms) but as collectors, processors, and exporters of vanilla, and can export even preceding the open of the season in October with declared stock, legally. All facilities underwent facility inspection audits and have documents and all requisites, but visits to Antalaha in Madagascar and MVC are the best way to really get familiar with production for large wholesale onboarding. In all cases sampling is welcome, and while for most clients basic samples and shipping is arranged, for elevated cases and new major wholesale accounts setup we prefer to align and run sampling and lab testing regime to the ISO 948: 1980 – https://www.iso.org/standard/5369.html
All vanilla leaving Madagascar must be legally pegged for export to official documents. To give an idea of the portfolio necessary to enable release, and why we and the island are strict with practices and procedures for quality, here is a sample of the stack needed for one $50,000 export below (details scrubbed):
MVC’s specialty is serving those who buy Madagascar vanilla beans bulk, customers or scientists or foodies who’d like to get deeper into the intricacies or even history of the flavor, to experience the array of flavors vanilla can yield. We have over the years become a culinary partner and feature of Alain Du Casse group, brewmasters competitions, and an arm of the head of the SEVAM exporters group in Madagascar, a political lobbying interest group representing the vanilla industry to the Malagasy national government. MVC followed the example of Madagascar National Parks and WCS in helping monitor the integrity of the proximate primary rainforests, mainly Marojejy and Masoala out to the Makira corridor, to protect and replant the peripheral buffer zone inland from the coast (proving difficult,) and to discourage deforestation (proving possible but difficult.) Peace Corps volunteers in Ambanja and Mananara have over the past 20 years as vanilla and cacao pet projects publicized sustainability training for excellent brands like Madecasse and Lafaza which do make a difference after about 2 decades doing business here, as well as the Duke University Lemur Center and a few other NGO’s, but their leadership are hardly ever in Madagascar anymore, and so our in-house team in Antalaha, Sambava, Antananarivo, Nosy Be, and Maroansetra have all actually taken up to policing these practices and planting agents and communication chains to verify (rather than just vocalize) sustainability issues in Madagascar.
At certain times in the history of the vanilla market a government SIGOC price floor has been erected to hold up the price of beans against collapse or from coming down towards lower market price levels, and fixed price controls stand to regulate the nominal export price, bolster taxable foreign inbound transfers, and bring about controlled foreign currency inflows to Madagascar. Banks receiving exporters’ accounts need to then certify and attest or audit that the full minimum export price has been received per kilogram weight for all outbound vanilla shipments for Madagascar, and the Ministry of Commerce issues or rescinds export licenses based on compliance. This price floor changes from year to year and occasionally doesn’t exist at all, while it occasionally clamps down and clears out new competition or duplicitous cheating in vanilla. In practice, the government price dictates by customs laws what amount of money must to arrive in Madagascar bank accounts of the exporters in order to enable the export of the commensurate amount of vanilla to the importer (customer.)
Generally after vanilla ships SIGOC gives the exporter about 90 days to complete the total price file, that is: to recover and charge the balance of the price from the customer in case they gave the customer payment terms or 50/50, 70/30, 80/20, and so on. The government then bans exporters who do not prove the entire dollar per weight benchmark has been received in inbound wire transfers to the exporter’s bank, or who run afoul of local favor by bad reputation or reports of evading price regulations and fair play with farmers. Naturally, this serves to police the smaller less established vanilla exporters or artisanal vanilla societies (also themselves technically exporters, smaller) who evade these rules out of business or even out of existence, while large and organized exporters tend to take compliance very seriously. Authorizations for a few hundred kilograms of vanilla are given to probationary and provisional new export houses on a case by case basis in order to aid fledgling industries. Bankruptcy and redeclaration as a new entity in order to cheat these rules and just put up a new company or SARL to re-export is also policed in Madagascar, and the government looks actively for vanilla export houses who try to dodge this rule. Bottom line is that the central government says by law that the total must be received in the Madagascar bank of record by the exporter of record (EOR,) by the importer of record (IOR.)
The swing of the vanilla harvest and the seasons that works vanilla voyagers up into a frenzy each fall is when the go signal is announced for green vanilla beans, everybody races off into the countryside to bargain down green vanilla prices with new farmers, or colludes and closely nurture relations with these farmers they already have been buying from for years to pre-fix and guarantee good supply. Farmers can be fickle or “Fidel” depending on who and how much the premium offered from another auctioneer or buyer is…and many of the court cases in Antalaha or Sambava or Mananara and Maroansetra tribunals is literally just about contracts and promises broken to sell x’s vanilla to y’s loyal collector.
For example, in 2021 the price of green vanilla beans was less than $10 easily south of the rainforest at the start, but by the end of the following month collectors were attempting to sell black beans for 8-10 times the price, whereas the multiple of cost in order for them to cure it to black and finished vanilla was about 5-7. Therefore, the difference in the multiple generally constitutes the margin between the farm and the collection house. If vanilla is green at $1, it will cost $7 to make it into black vanilla. Then, the collector attempts to sell it for $8-10. If the collector cheats, he will cure it to an over-wet weight that is only a multiple of 5 or 6 and hence try to swell his margins higher.
The margin of price difference between direct providers (planters and growers) at the base level, following the supply chain to the bottom, is about 15-30%. That means that a true producer of vanilla will tend not to have too much difference in price than another one, or they are probably not a producer. If the interval is more than 30%, it usually means you are working with an intermediary, hidden or overt, acting clearly or as a chameleon to march up the premium on you. Vanilla farmers will for example sell green vanilla for 25,000-32,000 Ariary. Vanilla collectors will onset black vanilla for then 250,000-320,000 Ariary. Vanilla exporters will then sell vanilla with vanilla export papers and preparation and bean triage included for 400,000 to 500,000 Ariary. If there is more than this sort of interval in the supply chain of vanilla, you can usually detect a price distortion or an overly greedy premium. The only other way to be sure is to fly to Madagascar, setup in the bush for 3-12 months, and spend every day getting to know everyone.
The core markets for large wholesale vanilla are flavoring and extract for industry, which gravitate to commoditized featureless vanilla plant matter like cuts and red and splits…and then you have everyone else in the vanilla buyer base, who tend to want those photogenic and illustrious black and beautiful whole beans for whatever purpose (including extract too, often enough.) Commodity vanilla is usually focused on getting as much flavor or just vanillin even for as cheap as possible, therefore disregarding aesthetics to trade those in for aptitude in a flavor product. While vanilla bean cuts and splits and red vanilla can sometimes be sold a bit cheaper to the final customer or the medium-chain customer, the production cost for this vanilla is the same as any other whole vanilla. When different triages are sold for different prices, it is not actually due to a difference in supply cost or production cost of these vanillas, but due to difference in demand levels and sellers’ commensurate posturing to capitalize on this.
Most large clients for vanilla who buy in the tons of beans diversify slightly their supply base to straddle 3-5 Madagascar vanilla bean providers to hedge against single points of failure and build in redundancy (like computer programmers or the military,) so as to not end up hostage or beholden to one vanilla supplier in Madagascar. That tends to mean that they sprinkle several hundred kg orders around before building up to tons as relationships go on, and generally try to ask for payment terms (to pay after receipt and inspection of the beans or even after a long grace period) especially at the beginning and just because they have the name and the volume to bring to the table.
Over the decades where the internet began to permeate SAVA and online email, social media, and phone connectivity existed in Madagascar, more vanilla deals and bean and powder sales began to be conducted online for vanilla. In these years America has enjoyed popularity while distrust has mounted for vanilla customers in France and South Asia and Arabia, despite their historic role as most of the boots-on-ground buyers in the vanilla trade….Their fall from favor, especially for legacy French is due not just to aging but to technology. Remote dealmaking has been revealing that French, Indian, and Arabian firms are more often than other countries cheating and creating payment problems (or not paying) and traders from these countries and Eastern Europe are guilty of rampant misrepresentation of these “buyer’s” commercial intent and position in a chain of trade. With many Malagasy actively avoiding even working with them without 100% fronted payment agreements and explicit commitments, (or at all,) they also don’t trust them since the early 2000’s, and thus very soberly seek safe proof of payment (not contracts,) before bothering to move beans or even papers.
The reputation of clients from America and Japan has grown markedly in the past years, due to volume and commercial intent and the maturity and sheer breadth of the market…but competition for the markets is becoming high especially for the USA. The UK and Australia are seen in Madagascar as good to do business with too, while Germany and Netherlands is rated about middle of the road in Malagasy public opinion due to high maitenance, paper, and customer-service burden. China in particular is famous for bargaining too much and driving margin out of the sellers’ hands and then not paying, and Japan is famous for never paying in advance ever and being nearly impossible to break into but very good to work with.
Quality control in Madagascar prior to exit from the island by air or (more rarely) sea doesn’t usually control for mold or problems in poor curing completely, but it does police mostly effectively for microbes and phytosanitary liabilities. Customs requires a phytosanitary document to accompany every export of vanilla plant matter from Madagascar, and while a limited amount of vanilla labs exist in Sambava, Antalaha, Tamatave, Fianaratsoa, and Antananarivo, the most sophisticated labs for testing vanilla qualities are in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Madagascar Vanilla can be lot-tracked and can employ traceability in vanilla beans. This can be employed (if reliable and not just made up for lot numbers like many collection houses do) in order to choose your preferred Madagascar farm/town/regional origin, or even to put together a general “sampler” of Madagascar vanilla growing regions and their harvest. If you’d like to taste different origins, we’d suggest getting a set of vanilla triage from Andapa, Bemanivika, Antalaha, Ampanefena, Cap Est, Mananara, and Maroansetra vanilla. Vanilla in Manakara and the south and even Nosy Komba area and the north have vanilla production as well, and all these vanillas taste a bit different from one another. Buy your vanilla beans in bulk with a sampler array to experience and hone in on just the right combination of climatic conditions, soil, curing, and triage type. It takes longer to prepare and can cost a bit more and takes more care too, but we really delight in doing this for our customers!