Sustainable vanilla sourcing program announced

Friday, 22 February, 2013

General Mills and Häagen-Dazs have announced a sustainable vanilla sourcing program designed to support smallholder vanilla farmers in Madagascar and ensure the availability of high-quality vanilla for future generations.

Häagen-Dazs and the General Mills Foundation will invest $125,000 over two years to benefit villages in the Sava region in Madagascar, where the world’s highest-quality vanilla is grown.

The program will provide training and education to several hundred smallholder vanilla farmers focused on producing a more sustainable, higher-quality vanilla crop. The training will teach value-added production techniques, including yield improvement and vanilla curing. The program will also focus on building vanilla curing and storage facilities.

Three global partners will be involved in the program to promote sustainable vanilla farming in Madagascar: General Mills; vanilla supplier Virginia Dare; and international humanitarian organisation CARE.

“Working to improve the lives of smallholder farmers by helping them accrue a greater share of the benefit from the crops they produce will also help ensure a sustainable and quality supply of vanilla for the future,” said Jerry Lynch, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer for General Mills.

The vanilla program is part of General Mills’ more comprehensive sustainable sourcing plan that prioritises 10 ingredients, including vanilla, to be sourced sustainably. The company is also funding research to map the vanilla genome through the University of California, Davis. The company anticipates this will lay the foundation for breeding improvements to increase yields, strengthen disease resistance and enhance flavour.

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