Sustainable Vanilla Initiative Update: Efforts and Lessons to Date


Don Seville

Sustainable Vanilla Initiative
Hartland, VT


The Sustainable Vanilla Initiative (SVI) has been bringing together sustainability leaders from the vanilla sector for the last three years to contribute to improving the livelihoods of producers, growing the supply of traceable and sustainable vanilla, and addressing the quality crisis. While SVI was initiated with primary focus on livelihoods and addressing poverty, the changing market conditions with extreme price volatility, insecurity at the farm level, and pervasive early picking and quality problems drove SVI to include a much broader and more basic market governance agenda.  In this session we will share some highlights — both success and challenges — from SVI’s approach to working with origin governments on market governance, traceability, child labor, member farmer support programs, security, and more in this dynamic market time.



Don Seville is the Co- Director of the Sustainable Food Laboratory.   The Food Lab has facilitated business led collaboration on sustainable agriculture since 2004.   Don is leading the Sustainable Livelihoods work within the lab, which is developing partnerships between companies and NGOs on trading models and sector governance  that better connects small scale producers to modern markets. Don received his M.S. in Technology and Policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994 and has worked extensively with the Society for Organizational Learning.


About the Sustainable Vanilla Initiative (SVI) 
The SVI is a voluntary industry initiative, which aims to develop the long-term stable supply of high quality, natural vanilla, produced in a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable way. The SVI is hosted by IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative in collaboration with the Sustainable Food Lab (SFL). Through SVI, 24 international companies have come together to contribute to growing the supply and market for sustainable natural vanilla, with an initial focus on Madagascar as the largest origin. These companies recognize clear need to collaborate to improve quality, market stability, and the livelihoods of the farmers who ultimately grow the vanilla.