Heilala Vanilla initially began as an aid project, but quickly grew to become a successful business, and in 2013, the Heilala Vanilla Foundation was established. The Foundation is a registered charitable trust with the NZ Charities Commission and each year selects a project to benefit the people of Vava’u, Tonga.

Q: What is the brand story?

A: Heilala, New Zealand’s premium vanilla grower and producer, was established as an aid project after a cyclone ripped through the Tongan island of Vava’u in 2002. This led to the founding of Heilala Vanilla and the first harvest of vanilla beans in 2005. Since the first harvest, Heilala has built strong supply relationships throughout Tonga and created a range of added value vanilla products for retail, food service and food manufacturing customers.

Q: What is the current product range and variants and what makes these products stand out in the market?                                                                                                                               

A: The annual harvest of vanilla beans are shipped to the company’s headquarters, in Te Puna, Tauranga. There it’s packaged and processed into a range of 100% pure and natural range of products, including vanilla beans, extract, paste, sugar, syrup and powder.

Q: What is innovative or unique about the product?

A: Tongan vanilla has a very high vanillin content which results in a superior vanilla flavour. Heilala have partnered with Massey University and Plant and Food Research to continually develop products and to understand the science and the flavour of the vanilla which is so unique.

Q: Who is the consumer and what benefit does the product bring them?

A: Heilala Vanilla is the world’s only vanilla producer that grows, manufactures and markets the spice itself. Almost all vanilla flavouring that is consumed today is actually artificial. Vanilla is typically a commodity product that goes through a long line of traders before it reaches the end user so the short, transparent supply chain of Heilala Vanilla means that consumers are getting a product that is of high quality, consistent and safe. Heilala customers care about where their food comes from and that they are using real ingredients. Heilala Vanilla adds something special to their cooking or baking. Whether it’s the star ingredient in a crème brulee or a background balancing flavour, Heilala Vanilla supports, balances, mellows and gives depth to dishes. At various doses and concentrations vanilla can enhance the flavour of chocolate, coffee, nut and fruit flavours.

Q: What consumer trend does the product support?

A: Heilala Vanilla’s unique plantation-to-pantry provenance addresses the current trends of food traceability and sustainability. 

For more information contact Ruby Grant at or on +64 027 469 8233