Although vanillin makes up the main flavor and aroma component of natural vanilla, extraction of the pure compound from actual vanilla beans results in an ingredient far too expensive to compete with readily available, chemically synthesized vanillin. Until now.

Starting with ferulic acid derived from rice bran, Rhodia Aroma Performance, Lyon, France, developed a fermentation process that yields natural vanillin as a pure compound. The water-soluble, beige to brown crystalline powder carries a soft, powdery note completed by a touch of caramel taste. Because it comes from a natural (and renewable) raw material and a bio-fermentation process, this form of vanillin meets the requirements of “natural status“ by the EC’s rule 1334/2008 and can be described as a “natural flavor” under US labeling regulations.

The company noted that Rhovanil Natural is cost-competitive vs. vanilla bean extract because much less is needed to achieve the same organoleptic strength.