Vanilla - the world's favorite flavor
Genetics, Genomics, and Domestic Production
Our Vision for Vanilla
Locally sourced, designer varieties that resonate with today's savvy consumer.
Most of the Vanilla grown commercially today is very similar from a genetic perspective, but we’ve found some important differences. Our objective is to characterize the best types of Vanilla for production in southern Florida, and to create new varieties with superior field performance and extract quality. We will be focusing on natural disease resistance so our growers can obtain reliable yields while increasing sustainability. We will also be focusing on aroma quality to delight consumers that are ready for the next step in the evolution of vanilla flavor.
Domestic Vanilla Market
The United States is the largest importer of cured Vanilla beans. Vanilla extract from Vanilla beans comprises a small, yet premium market in the flavor industry. Most of the world’s Vanilla is grown in Madagascar, but evolving consumer trends are increasingly favoring local production. We’ve been growing Vanilla in the United States since the early 1900's, but only since prices have skyrocketed have we seriously considered establishing a domestic industry in southern Florida.
Our Vanilla collection includes over 160 accessions from 23 species. Our hope is that somewhere within this collection is the first generation of commercial-quality material for Florida growers. The collection will also be used to create the next generation of Vanilla with improved traits.
We have successfully established a robust system for the creation of large hybrid populations of Vanilla. Our initial genomics work including a draft Vanilla genome has already been published. We anticipate expanding into flavor quality in the near future.
Pollinating a Vanilla flower
V. pompona with characteristic yellow color