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Friend & Burrell works with vanilla growers in Papua New Guinea to produce vanilla beans justifying vanilla’s status as one of the world’s greatest spices.

In the past few years, Simon Friend has worked closely with PNG growers and their agents to develop skills in curing and processing. While our growers have inter-generational experience of growing vanilla beans, they have less experience of consistent curing and processing vanilla ideal for culinary use. Our work has focussed on good pollination practices, picking beans at the right stage of maturity (after 9 months) and resisting the temptation to pick immature beans. Early picking can’t ever support a sustainable, long-term industry.

Our vanilla is of dark, unblemished appearance, oily, supple, pliable, with good nose, flavour and yield. Moisture and vanillin levels are consistent with this condition of high quality. We offer beans of length of at least 16cm and beans between 14cm and 16cm.

We also have beans of a quality not meeting higher grading standards but valuable for food and beverage processing - baking, soft drinks, brewing and distilling. The beans may be short, dryer, split, with external blemish or other defect but having a yield and condition suitable for use in food or beverage processing. We welcome your inquiries about these beans.

Proper grading of vanilla is essential. Beans not meeting our quality standards are separated and the subject of review with the farmer. By the time the beans reach our grading table, they’ve been the subject of careful attention for over a year. The fruit of an orchid, vanilla beans require specific growing conditions, care and patience. The conditions in PNG are ideal for vanilla production. From pollinating at precisely the right time, growing over nine months, harvesting fully mature beans and then curing, every stage of vanilla bean production is completed by hand, making vanilla one of the world's most labour intensive crops.

Vanilla production and trade has been inconsistent and volatile in recent years with Madagascan crops ruined by cyclones and the emergence of crime, black markets, poverty and political instability in growers’ communities. Our approach to vanilla production is that long-term reward can only come from a safe, solid, sustainable model, with fair payment for growers, resulting in a consistent, reliable supply of graded, quality vanilla. The merit of this approach is now apparent and we can offer you a consistent supply of vanilla.