The Tauranga vanilla brand Heilala Vanilla has received a boost with new partnerships with local Tongan vanilla growers. By investing in the Tongan supply chain, Heilala Vanilla has achieved record-breaking numbers following the development of larger vanilla farms in 2018.

Over the last 16 years, Heilala Vanilla has collaborated with local Tongan management and vanilla grower, Albert Guttenbiel. The two have invested in planting over 100 acres of vanilla in Vava’u and employs over 100 local community members.

The current and new vanilla plantations offer a space for research trials for the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) Vanilla Project. The farm officially launched in Vava’u last week at the Heilala Vanilla Utungake farm. “With the support of MFAT and Plant and Food, the vanilla industry in Tonga will really benefit from applied research,” said Heilala Vanilla CEO, Jennifer Boggiss. “There is a strong baking culture in North America and focus on responsibly and ethically sourced ingredients.”

This partnership led to a successful entry into the US market. The company saw an increase of over 2,000 percent from March 2017 to March 2019.

While the brand knows the importance of remaining connected to its Tongan origins, maintaining a sustainable future for Tonga is essential to the industry. “The new plantings coming onstream along with the MFAT partnership will set us up for a sustainable future, allowing us to continue the best practice and innovation within the global vanilla industry.”