Finding alternative ways to make vanillin is extremely important. As of now, the world is facing a huge vanillin shortage. According to Scientific American, vanilla as a mass-produced ingredient is actually a somewhat recent creation. Until the year 1841, vanilla was incredibly rare, reserved only for the upper crust of European aristocracy. Edmond Albius, who was a French colony slave, discovered how to produce vanilla beans from vanilla orchids. This discovery changed the world, leading to things such as vanilla ice cream and vanilla fragrance.
Madagascar is the vanilla capital of the world, being responsible for 80% of the vanilla shipped and produced today (as well as the namesake of a crazy beast). However, natural vanilla is quite a labor-intensive crop, usually taking years to make, and there’s just not enough to meet the rising demand. This has led to higher prices and fewer vanilla products on the store shelves. According to The Economist, this makes it all the more imperative to produce vanilla’s synthetic cousin.