Vanilla Vida raises $11.5 million Series A to innovate the vanilla value chain
The Israeli company claims to be the first in the world that has succeeded in developing a commercial solution for the entire value chain of vanilla, from cultivation through to the end product
Vanilla Vida of Strauss’s The Kitchen FoodTech Hub announced on Wednesday that it has raised $11.5 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Ordway Selections, a Swiss investment firm and money-manager for a number of private families. Other investors in the round include PeakBridge, a seed fund specializing in FoodTech, Kibbutz Maagan Michael, and Strauss, which has now made its second investment in the company.
Vanilla Vida was founded in 2020 by Oren Zilberman, who today serves as the company’s CEO and was formerly active in investments in AgriTech; Raz Krizevski, CTO, who has a rich background in fragrances and plants acquired at international corporations such as Evogene and Teva, and Shlomi Kadosh, who manages the agricultural aspects of the company’s activities and has decades of experience in planting and in managing international operations. The company claims to be the first in the world that has succeeded in developing a commercial solution for the entire value chain of vanilla, from cultivation through to the end product.
Vanilla Vida CEO Oren Zilberman. Photo: Vanilla Vida
Vanilla is the most popular flavor in the world, and the second most expensive spice. 95% of world vanilla consumption is based on synthetic vanilla (which is mainly made by refining petrochemicals). Natural vanilla suffers from an irregular supply chain and varying raw material quality due to climate change, resulting in a highly volatile price. The technology developed by Vanilla Vida guarantees frequent vanilla crops raised with complete transparency. Among other things, the technological advantage enables the growth of vanilla pods containing about three times as much vanilla as the vanilla that is available on the market – the highest vanilla content observed in the world to date.
Within just 18 months, the company succeeded in developing a data-driven curing method that improves crop yields, is GMO-free and significantly shortens the traditional process. The company said it already has significant international customers, including European and American food and flavor and extract giants.
Vanilla Vida’s offices and development labs are presently located in Strauss’s FoodTech incubator in Ashdod, and the company is now building a curing plant and offices, including development labs, in Or Yehuda. The greenhouses in which the vanilla is grown are in Yesod HaMa’ala and will be expanded into other locations in Israel thanks to collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture. The company currently employs 15 people.
“The funds will allow for significant growth in production and will be invested in building industrial infrastructure,” said Oren Zilberman, Vanilla Vida CEO. “Smart agriculture makes it possible to guarantee high-quality produce that overcomes the objective difficulties involved in growing agricultural raw materials, in addition to massive climate change and a lack of resources, including land and water. Vanilla Vida’s solution makes it possible to produce top-quality vanilla tailored to the customer’s needs and to ensure a sustainable supply chain that is considerate of the environment and transparently shows the process throughout the entire value chain.”
Jonathan Berger, CEO of The Kitchen FoodTech Hub by Strauss and member of Vanilla Vida’s board of directors, added: “One of the effects of global warming is extreme weather volatility, with resulting crop damage. Vanilla Vida will be using precision agriculture technology, in which Israel is a world leader, to grow vanilla on a frequent and stable basis.”