Vanilla [German version]

Table of contents

Product information
  Container transport
  Cargo securing

Risk factors and loss prevention:
Temperature Odor
Humidity/Moisture Contamination
Ventilation Mechanical influences
Biotic activity Toxicity / Hazards to health
Gases Shrinkage/Shortage
Self-heating / Spontaneous combustion Insect infestation / Diseases

Product information

Product name

German Vanille
English Vanilla
French Vanilla
Spanish Vainilla
Scientific Fructus vanillae of Vanilla planifolia
CN/HS number * 0905 00 00

(* EU Combined Nomenclature/Harmonized System)

Product description

Vanilla is the pod-shaped capsular fruit (10 – 15 cm in length, diameter 5 – 15 mm) of the plant Vanilla planifolia, which belongs to the orchid family (Orchidaceae). The pods are harvested when unripe and are then fermented and dried. The plants are woody climbers and are cultivated on plantations on wooden posts.

The aroma substance, vanillin, is only formed during the fermentation process and is deposited as fine, white crystals on the fruit which, during this process, has become dark brown to almost black, tough, flexible, lengthwise slightly wrinkly and slightly lustrous. The vanilla pods contain a black/brown fruit pulp with numerous small seeds.

Since manual labor is required both for pollinating vanilla blossoms and for harvesting the fruit, natural vanilla is today generally replaced with the synthetic flavor substances vanillin and ethyl vanillin to reduce costs. However, these substances are not capable of completely replicating the flavor of natural vanilla, the aroma of which is the result of the interplay between a total of approx. 40 different aroma substances [10].

Oil content: 1.5 – 3.0% essential oils, in particular vanillin (C8H8O3 [1]

Quality / Duration of storage

The quality of this product is determined by the length, which in the product of commerce varies between 10 and 25 cm, and the fleshiness of the fruit. Further quality features include vanillin content, a lustrous, flexible pod with a thin skin and high pulp content. Lower grades have a cracked, desiccated skin.

The sweetest varieties of vanilla come from Mexico, but are of only subordinate significance for imports. Greater volumes of Bourbon vanilla, which is of only slightly inferior quality to Mexican vanilla, are imported, while vanilla from Java, Sri Lanka and Tahiti are of lower value.

Name Quality designations Description
Mexican vanilla Superior, Good, Fair, Ordinary Up to 25 cm long and 1 cm wide, somewhat bent and flexible, black/brown pods. Without white, needle-shaped vanillin crystals.
Java and Ceylon vanilla, Bourbon vanilla extra fine, fine, mi-fine, fendue As above, up to one third smaller, but sometimes covered with needle-shaped vanillin crystals.
Tahiti vanilla naturelle (natural), givrée (synthetically enhanced) with covering of white crystals 15-20 cm long and up to 2.5 cm wide, triangular, black/brown pods.

A white covering of vanillin crystals is often visible and misidentified as mold, giving rise to claims for mold damage.

Intended use

Vanilla is one of the best known flavorings and is used in cooking, in the food industry, in patisserie products and for the production of confectionery, desserts, chocolate, ice cream, liqueurs and perfumes.


(Click on the individual Figures to enlarge them.)

Photo, vanilla stem

Figure 1
Photo, vanilla

Figure 2

Countries of origin

This Table shows only a selection of the most important countries of origin and should not be thought of as exhaustive.

Africa Comoros, La Réunion, Seychelles
Asia Sri Lanka, Tahiti, Indonesia
America Mexico

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One method of transporting vanilla is as bundles in tinplate cans (8 kg) lined with waxed paper, which are in turn packaged in sixes in wooden boxes (48 kg). It is also packaged in cartons each containing 4 cans. Vanilla is sold in glass tubes, among other things.

Packaging sizes are so selected that the dimensions of the individual area modules or area module multiples are conformed to the conventional pallet sizes (800×1200 mm and 1000×1200 mm) and cargo units may thus be produced.

Marking of packages

Fragile, Handle with care
Mark03.gif (1911 bytes)

Mark07.gif (2224 bytes)

Keep dry

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Symbol, general cargo

General cargo

Means of transport

Ship, truck, railroad

Container transport

Standard containers may be used, subject to compliance with lower limits for water content of goods, packaging and container flooring.

Cargo handling

In damp weather (rain, snow), the cargo must be protected from moisture, since this may lead to corrosion of the cans and depreciation.

Stowage factor

1.92 – 2.04 m3/t (wooden boxes, 48 kg) [1]
1.67 – 1.81 m3/t (boxes) [11]
1.39 – 1.53 m3/t (bags) [11]
1.92 – 2.04 m3/t (wooden boxes, 48 kg) [14]

Stowage space requirements

Cool, dry, good ventilation


Fiber rope, thin fiber nets, marker pen, oil crayon

Cargo securing

In order to ensure safe transport, the packages must be stowed and secured in the means of transport in such a manner that they cannot slip or shift during transport. If loss of volume and degradation of quality are to be avoided, the packages must not be damaged by other articles or items of cargo.

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Risk factors and loss prevention

RF Temperature

Vanilla requires particular temperature, humidity/moisture and possibly ventilation conditions (SC VI) (storage climate conditions).

Favorable travel temperature range: 5 – 25°C [1]

Vanilla should be transported in areas which exhibit the lowest temperatures during the voyage and are dry. In any event, storage beneath the weather deck or, in the case of shipping in containers, in the uppermost layer on deck, must be avoided as the deck or container is strongly heated by the intense tropical sun and, at temperatures of > 25°C, essential oils may be lost.

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RF Humidity/Moisture

Vanilla requires particular temperature, humidity/moisture and possibly ventilation conditions (SC VI) (storage climate conditions).

Designation Humidity/water content Source
Relative humidity 75% [1]
Water content up to 45% [1]
Maximum equilibrium moisture content 70% [1]

Spices are hygroscopic goods (hygroscopicity), which interact with the moisture in the air. The risk of mold growth is naturally at its greatest in warm, damp air.

To ensure that the product does not become musty under the influence of moisture, the vanilla pods are packaged in cans.

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RF Ventilation

Vanilla requires particular temperature, humidity/moisture and possibly ventilation conditions (SC VI) (storage climate conditions).

To prevent the labels from falling off the cans or corrosion of the cans by condensation water, ventilation may be necessary. This is the case where the moisture potential in the hold/container is too high, e.g. due to excessively damp cartons or boxes. To dissipate potential moisture, the following ventilation measures should then be implemented:

Recommended ventilation conditions: air exchange rate: 6 changes/hour (airing)

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RF Biotic activity

Vanilla displays 3rd order biotic activity.

Vanilla belongs to the class of products in which respiration processes are suspended, but in which biochemical, microbial and other decomposition processes still proceed.

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RF Gases

No risk.

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RF Self-heating / Spontaneous combustion

An elevated moisture content and excessively high temperatures create a risk of self-heating.

Oil content: 1.5 – 3.0% essential oils, in particular vanillin (C8H8O3) [1]

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RF Odor

Active behavior Vanilla has a delicate, sweetish/aromatic odor. Airtight packaging in cans prevents vanilla from causing odor-tainting during transport.
Passive behavior Airtight packaging in cans protects vanilla from foreign odors during transport.

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RF Contamination

Active behavior Vanilla does not cause contamination.
Passive behavior The product itself is not at any risk from the airtight packaging. However, the wooden packaging is sensitive to contamination by dust, dirt, fats and oils.

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RF Mechanical influences

As vanilla is very sensitive to moisture, the packaging must under no circumstances be damaged by improper handling. The packages must therefore be handled with appropriate care.

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RF Toxicity / Hazards to health

No risk.

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RF Shrinkage/Shortage

Vanilla is very valuable and is thus at acute risk of theft. Where conventional shipment is used, the cargo should be kept in the locker. Where possible, containers should be stowed such that the doors of adjacent containers face inwards towards each other.

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RF Insect infestation / Diseases

No risk.

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