Vanilla, an indigenous Mexican plant, has become an essential ingredient worldwide in production of baked goods and beverages.
Now Grupo Tecnaal, a Mexican producer of vanilla extract based out of the Guadalajara suburb of Zapopan, is looking to break into the Chinese market.
The company processes the vanilla bean into a variety of products under the brand name Pineyro.
Its star product, an all-natural vanilla bean paste made from finely ground vanilla pods, will be showcased at the upcoming China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai later this month.
“Vanilla bean paste can be used as an end product, but it also serves to make bread and other edible goods,” said Araceli Chávez, Grupo Tecnaal’s manager of international sales.
“It’s even used in cosmetics.”
The paste, which is highly nutritious, aromatic and flavorful, is something the company thinks “they might like in China,” she said.
Representatives of the company also attended last year’s inaugural edition of the CIIE, which Chávez described as an “important venue” that opens China’s market to the world.
“It is a market of opportunity, given its enormous potential,” she said.
Through the expo, the Chinese government is helping foreign exporters interested in selling to Chinese consumers make the necessary contacts with importers, wholesalers and retailers.
Prior to the 2018 expo, a Tecnaal commercial team traveled to China in 2016 and 2017 to research the market, but Chávez said that they found it to be a challenging undertaking.
Today, however, she said that thanks to the CIIE and the support of the Chinese government, “there is the possibility that Chinese importers will get to know about us.”
That “helps us to continue diversifying our markets — and to know the market in China better,” she added.
Vanilla is grown in rural southeast Mexico, where the pods are laid out on mats and sun-dried, giving the final product a unique flavor.
Mexican vanilla enjoys an appellation of origin, since it has qualities that set it apart from the vanilla grown elsewhere, such as in Madagascar, currently the world’s leading vanilla producer.
The vanilla grown in Mexico is considered to have a rich, smoky taste.