Queen Fine Foods' Tongan vanilla rehabilitation programme Queen Fine Foods' Tongan vanilla rehabilitation programme CREDIT: Queen Fine Foods

New Tongan Vanilla Programme Gains Momentum

Thursday 12 September 2013, 9:13AM
By Food Marketing Ltd

The new Queen Fine Foods Tongan vanilla rehabilitation initiative that is working with local grower families has been inspected by the King of Tonga, Tupou VI, who recently visited the island group of Vava'u.

While touring to view the local products at the annual agriculture show, King Tupou VI took the opportunity to visit a vanilla plantation and meet with several vanilla growers. His Majesty was interested to find out details and the progress being made with the new vanilla programme, which offers growers financial support to reclaim their dormant vines and restore them back to productive levels.

Queen is sharing the latest sustainable farming techniques; assisting growers to cure their own beans and helping them achieve Organic Certification for their plantations. In addition, growers are being offered a sustainable direct supply partnership with Queen which ensures ongoing future income.

Ian Jones, who represents Queen Fine Foods in Vava’u, said that His Majesty’s visit to the plantation was very well received by the growers. King Tupou VI could see first-hand all the work that had gone into restoring the vanilla and encouraged the growers to work hard to rehabilitate and maintain their vanilla.

Mr Jones said, “This programme will help to reinvigorate the Tongan vanilla industry. Up until three months ago, around 90 per cent of the vanilla plantations were lying dormant in the jungle. Today, more than 90 per cent of the plantations and their growers are part of the programme and are actively working to reclaim their plantations with the assistance of Queen. Queen is looking forward to building a strong sustainable relationship with the growers of Vava’u for many years to come.”

The vanilla grown through this partnership will be harvested around mid-2014 and used in the products Queen Fine Foods sells throughout New Zealand, Australia and Europe.

  • This Queen Fine Foods initiative is working with grower families to develop sustainable and organic farming practices, and is directly improving the livelihoods of some 1400+ Tongan locals.
  • This significant agricultural programme teaches farmers not only how to grow high quality beans, but to cure their crop and add value. Growers who join the partnership receive a long term supply agreement with Queen which guarantees certainty of income for years to come. The programme is independently validated by Fairtrade International who are experts on ensuring growers are fairly treated.
  • Queen Fine Foods has successfully assisted other vanilla production regions over the years such as Papua New Guinea, and currently also works with fairtrade organisations in developing countries as remote as the Comoros Islands off the south-east coast of Africa to assist them with their vanilla production quality and yields.
  • Tonga has been chosen for this programme due to the high quality of their vanilla beans, which possess a similar flavour and aroma profile to those from the east-African region of Madagascar and the surrounding countries.
  • Vanilla once grew in the region, predominantly in the 80’s and 90’s. However, due to sustained poor prices and a range of growing and trading factors, the industry effectively collapsed. Queen’s rehabilitation programme addresses these factors to provide long term, sustainable, viable farming methods in the ever-changing vanilla industry.
  • Based in Brisbane, Queen Fine Foods is a family-owned business that has been making fine baking products since 1897 and is now one of New Zealand’s leading distributors of home baking and decorating products. Queen’s vanilla range includes their award-winning Vanilla Bean Paste, Vanilla Extract, Vanilla Beans and Vanilla Bean Dusting Sugar.