The Experiential Consumer and the opportunity for the Vanilla Industry

Christian Rodriguez

High Road Craft Ice Cream/Kennesaw State University
Atlanta, GA

Historically, US and Canada-based large food manufacturers have taken a generic approach to “real” vanilla products, with emphasis on cost-optimization of products. Sourcing and point-of-origin stories are of increasing interest to the mainstream North American consumer, and emerging premium foods manufacturers have the opportunity to advance “terroir” messaging in numerous categories. Companies like High Road Craft Ice Cream, of Metro-Atlanta, Georgia, USA, have invested material time and energy in developing unique vanilla ice cream products for mass distribution in the US Market, benefiting emerging market players like NEI Ltd of Tanzania.


Emerging premium manufacturers can assist emerging market vanilla businesses in ensuring proper margin structure during the nascent to sophomore stages of their business, assisting the vanilla communities’ business “ecosystems” in advancing the unique agricultural and organoleptic messaging to tastemaker B2B buyers and early-adopting premium consumers.

Christian Rodriguez will present a case study on a high profile, nationwide (USA) High Road project with Walmart/Sams Club – featuring Tanzanian Vanilla from NEI Ltd.

Christian Rodriguez was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and raised in a small town in the southeastern Georgia coast of the United States. He graduated from Le Cordon Bleu with Honors and began his career in the culinary hospitality industry in Atlanta, Georgia. After a successful stint managing the kitchens of some of the most popular restaurants in the city, he decided to take his career in an exciting new direction. Today, Christian is the Chef and Senior Vice President of Commercialization at High Road Craft Ice Cream. He oversees all product development activities to include global sourcing in search of the world’s best ingredients. None are more important to the ice cream industry than Vanilla.