Organic Vanilla 20 Years Later : Still Relevant?


Julie S. Weisman

Elan, Inc.

Newark, NJ, USA

The aim of this presentation will be to assess the continuing relevance and value of the “organic” designation both at the consumer end of the supply chain and for growers at origins, both established and emerging.


The organic space has matured quite a bit in the past dozen years.

There are new entrants to the landscape , such as “fair trade,” “Non-GMO,” and “sustainable”  which represent concerns that consumers want reflected in their purchases. At the same time, there are global concerns, such as climate change which is already impacting worldwide agriculture and on which growers in can have a beneficial impact.


This presentation will include examples of projects going on in a number of African countries that aim to promote the use of sound agricultural practices, of which organic practices, whether certified or not, play an important role. Existing initiatives do not include vanilla cultivation, and I hope those assembled can engage in an exploration of the role vanilla cultivation could play in a program to promote sustainable agricultural practices in vanilla-growing regions.



Julie Weisman is the Executive Vice President and co-owner of Elan, Inc., where she serves in a number of capacities, including Vice President of Organic Product Development for the company’s Vanilla Division. Under her leadership, Elan developed the first organic vanilla extracts and concentrates available in commercial quantities in the U.S over 20 years ago. As founder of Flavorganics, LLC, the first retail brand of organic extracts and flavored syrups in the U.S., she oversees all aspects of organic certification and compliance for Elan Vanilla, Flavorganics and its co-packers.


Ms. Weisman served a five-year term on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) from 2005-2010. She has been an active member of the Organic Trade Association since 1998, and has served on numerous task forces and committees shaping OTA policy and organic regulatory activities.  She was also been active on the Vanilla Subcommittee of the Flavor and Extract Manufacturer’s Association (FEMA) from 1998. In addition, Ms. Weisman has served in the past on the Board of Directors of Women in Flavor and Fragrance Commerce (WFFC).


Julie has given workshops on organic certification to the WFFC, the Metropolitan Association of Food Protection and the NY chapter of the Institute of Food Technologists, and on “The National List” to the National Organic Farming Association of New Jersey.


She previously presented to this group on “The Market for Organic Vanilla” at the Vanilla2005 Conference held in Veracruz, Mexico. Her article “Flavoring Organically with Extracts” appeared in the July 2005 issue of Organic Processing Magazine.


She received a B.A. from Hampshire College, Amherst, MA and earned a Master of Social Work from Smith College, Northampton, MA.  She lives with her husband and two daughters in Tenafly, NJ.