Nielsen-Massey Vanillas Inc.

Next to saffron, vanilla is the second-most expensive spice in the world, but that does not do much to limit demand. Vanilla is among the most popular flavors in commercial and domestic baking, and its scent is valued in the production of perfumes and aromatherapy products. Additionally, in all of the ice cream consumed in the United States, 27.8 percent is vanilla, while chocolate accounts for only 14.3 percent of ice cream consumed. But it’s not just vanilla ice cream that uses the prized spice – vanilla also is used to create ice cream flavors such as chocolate, custard, caramel and coffee. Of course, developing the best-tasting versions of these flavors and products requires the use of the best vanillas, and those supplied by Nielsen-Massey come with a more than 100-year reputation for quality.

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas Inc. has a history in the aroma and flavor business that dates back to 1907, and since the 1970s, the company has focused on producing only natural, pure vanilla products, including pure vanilla extracts, pastes, powder, sugar and beans. The company also produces pure almond, chocolate, coffee, lemon, orange and peppermint extracts, as well as orange blossom and rose waters.

“Throughout our history, our main principle has been to always focus on vanilla,” owner and CEO Craig Nielsen explains. “We focus on one thing and doing it well, and that has been pure vanilla extract since the early 1970s.”

Serving the consumer, wholesale, culinary and industrial markets, Nielsen-Massey’s pure vanilla extract varieties are Madagascar bourbon, organic Madagascar, Mexican and Tahitian. These are the top-three growing regions in the world, Nielsen says, and the company believes in showing the unique flavor profiles of vanillas grown in each region. It also offers whole beans sourced from each region.

Nielsen-Massey’s pure vanilla bean pastes are used to add more vanilla flavor to recipes without thinning out the batter or sauce. The Madagascar Bourbon pure vanilla powder is used in dry mixes, color-sensitive recipes and as flavoring for beverages, and Madagascar Bourbon pure vanilla sugar combines the company’s famed extract with gourmet baker’s sugar for use in baked goods, sprinkled in beverages or used as a sweet topping. The company notes all of its products are gluten-free, allergen-free and kosher.

“We have three primary sections of our business,” Nielsen says. “The industrial sector covers flavor houses, beverage producers, bakeries and confectionaries. The foodservice sector serves chefs, restaurants and hotels, and the wholesale business supplies specialty food stores.”

Continued Strength
Nielsen-Massey has remained in business for more than 100 years because it consistently provides all of its market sectors with vanilla and other flavor products made from the highest-quality ingredients in the world. The company is in its third generation of Nielsen family ownership, and takes pride in the attention-to-detail given during the crafting of its premium goods. Nielsen stresses that to ensure its products continue to meet the operation’s strict standards, the company requires a facility that is up to the task.

The company has two state-of-the-art facilities – one in Waukegan, Ill., and another in Leeuwarden, Netherlands. The U.S. facility ships to customers worldwide, while the Netherlands plant allows Nielsen-Massey to better serve its European customers.

The U.S. facility has been certified to produce gluten-free products, and both plants have been certified for organic food production by the appropriate agencies in their respective countries. Nielsen notes that all product development is done in-house to ensure Nielsen-Massey’s quality standards are maintained throughout.

Nielsen-Massey’s headquarters is based at the Illinois site, which was built in 1993 to have 33,000 square feet – 28,000 square feet for production and warehousing and 5,000 square feet of office space. When Nielsen-Massey realized it was running out of room last year, it added 24,000 square feet of warehousing space with increased storage capacity and another 4,800 square feet for offices.

“We love the new space,” Nielsen says. “We took our old office area and turned it into a prep, test and demonstration kitchen, complete with video capabilities. Now we can bring in chefs to demonstrate products and allow culinary school classes to visit.

“The increased space also increases our efficiency and storage, which allows us to keep more product in stock for our customers,” he adds. “Overall, this space improves our level of service to our customers.”

Within the next year, Nielsen-Massey plans to implement an inventory-tracking system to better ensure order accuracy. The company will continue to investigate new products, Nielsen says, as well as enhance its efficiencies and bring more production in-house, such as its vanilla paste. It also will expand its Netherlands facility by the end of the year, and continue to expand its customer base worldwide.

“We are strong, which is evidenced by our ability to continue to grow even in tough economic times,” Nielsen says.