Tim at Servolux writes:
Based on our friends in India we have started to set up this vanilla web site. Last year we got 3 industrial orders (>100kg) but our India contact got into problems because it turned out he needed an export licence that was rather expensive. We managed to export the vanilla using the export licence from an other contact in India. This year the vanilla harvest in Karnataka failed almost completely (at least the harvest from our friend) because of a fungus. So we were forced to “shop around” to find alternative sources. That was quite an experience and it turned out that many farmers are “forced” to sell through an intermediate company. In return they get a lousy price for their vanilla, especially if one considers how hard work it is and how risky since a harvest may go bad or even worse the Orchids may go bad! Anyway, this is why we got the idea of trying to set up a direct a sales channel which buys directly from the farmers and sells to the end users (private and business). However, we have very limited financial means and in order for the farmers to be interesting we have to promise/guarantee that we are able to sell several tons of vanilla. Otherwise they are better of with their local “strangulation” contracts. They get a lousy price but they have the guaranty that the will actually sell.
So the current situation is a bit of a “stale mate”. We do not have enough business contacts yet and end-user sales are just too low in volume to base any business on. However, I am convinced that, given time, we will be able to generate a reasonable sales volume so that we can start to deal with some small farmers and sell their goods directly. I am even envisioning going in a “wine like” direction in selling vanilla from plants using the farmer name as a “brand” and using “labels” which guarantee the quality and the fact that the vanilla really comes from the region we claim. And of course all high quality vanilla must be free of chemicals! But this “dream” will certainly take even longer to realise….