Heilala Vanilla produces a range of vanilla products for home bakers, chefs and food manufacturers in New Zealand and around the world. The company is based in Tauranga, with vanilla farms in Tonga.
Heilala Vanilla produces 100% pure vanilla products, in an industry where 98% of the world’s consumption is synthetic. Sustainability is a focus throughout the entire value chain, from the vanilla plantations in Tonga through to manufacturing. It uses organic farming practices and works closely with farming families. It is going through the process of B Corp certification.
When the pandemic first hit, there was a shortage of hand sanitiser in New Zealand as well as limited access to healthcare provisions in Tonga.
Pure vanilla extract is produced using ethanol – the same high-proof alcohol that is used to make sanitiser. So, Heilala Vanilla quickly switched some of its vanilla extraction tanks to make commercial-grade hand sanitiser in response to these shortages. The result is a sweet-smelling, vanilla-infused sanitiser with 69% alcohol (the quality recommended by the World Health Organisation).
Initially Heilala Vanilla prioritised distribution of the product in Tonga, in particular to the three hospitals there. Due to overwhelming interest, the company increased production capacity to make the hand sanitiser available to New Zealanders. It has added additional staff resourcing to meet the growing business’ needs.
The company has seen a significant spike in vanilla sales through new customers whose initial interest was through purchasing hand sanitiser. Sales are up 120% on the same period last year.