Strengthening the Branding of Indonesian Spices through Vanilla Seeds

Indonesia is a country rich in abundant natural resources, one of which is spices. Currently, spice commodities are still one of the leading export commodities to European and American countries. Types of Indonesian spices that are well known to the world include pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla, turmeric, and ginger. Based on data released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 2016, Indonesia occupies the fourth largest position in the world as a spice-producing country with a total production of 113,649 tons and total exports reaching USD652.3 million (INDONESIA.GO.ID, 2018). It makes Indonesia have great opportunity to become a world spice supplier that can make a major contribution to Indonesia’s economic growth and as a fulfillment of essential needs in the world.

One of the world’s recognized spices and including the most expensive commodity that is called by the name of green gold is vanilla. Vanilla is a plant that originally came from Mexico. Vanilla is processed into vanilla powder which is usually used as a food and beverage fragrance or flavor. The vanilla powder found in foods is derived from the orchid flower, which contains fruits such as pods. These pods can range from 5-22 cm and are considered of higher quality if they are larger (, 2017). Vanilla is not just a flavoring in food or drink, but also has a number of benefits that are good for health, such as reducing inflammation, increasing hair growth, preventing chronic disease, protecting the heart and overcoming acne problems, and much more (, 2017). Currently, dry vanilla is priced at Rp. 3 million – Rp. 12 million per kilogram (Setya, 2021). Vanilla has a relatively expensive price due to cultivation factors and the growth process takes a long time.

Currently, the first largest vanilla-producing country in the world is Madagascar with a supplier of around 56.7 percent of the world’s vanilla needs or 3,220 tons of vanilla production in 2019. The second position that occupies the second position is Indonesia, which fills around 6.7 percent of the world’s needs or 2,330 tons of vanilla. produced by Indonesia in 2019 (Yolanda, 2021). This shows that Indonesia has the potential as a supplier of vanilla in the future for world needs. Indonesia is currently increasing its vanilla cultivation. According to data from the Ministry of Trade (Ministry of Trade), Indonesia in the 2015-2019 period recorded positive growth from the vanilla export trend of 32.55 percent (Emeria, 2022). Exporting countries that are already familiar in their exports are European countries and the United States (US), exporting dry vanilla to the US can reach 8 tons per month. It is known that in 2001, Indonesia had become the world’s largest exporter of vanilla (AgroFarm, 2017). Currently it has spread to many areas in Indonesia, including North Sumatra, Central Java, Banten, East Java, West Java, Lampung, East Nusa Tenggara, Sulawesi (Limakilo, n.d.). For now, the Pandeglang, Banten is an area that has the potential for the largest vanilla cultivation in Indonesia. There are 17 sub-districts covering an area of ​​63.26 ha, the spread of vanilla cultivation managed by local farmers. Currently, the production of vanilla is around 1000 kg/year or about 58 kg/ha. Meanwhile, Jerry Hermawan Lo (JHL) Group through its subsidiary PT. The Brotherhood of the Children of the Nation (PAB) will build plantations and processing vanilla and other spices which will be produced from upstream to downstream (Department of  Agriculture, Pandeglang Regency, 2021). It will have a positive impact in the future for Indonesia by increasing the Indonesian economy from the vanilla export commodity and spreading the Indonesian identity through natural wealth, especially spices.

The potential of Indonesia from various regions, where each region in Indonesia contributes a lot to produce vanilla, besides that Indonesia is also a tropical country that has a climate suitable for the development of vanilla plants with soil containing humus with a pH of 6-7 and have good drainage. Because other countries that do not have a tropical climate have many obstacles in terms of soil fertility that do not have adequate humus in soil fertility (Nurdin, n.d., #). Indonesia is one of the countries that has a climate that is suitable for vanilla cultivation which with the presence of fertile soil, this can be a strategy for Indonesia to maximize its potential in producing vanilla. With Indonesia’s potential through the superiority of vanilla production, Indonesia can maximize this potential as one of the contributors to the Indonesian economy because vanilla beans have economic value and high selling prices. based on data from the Indonesian Ministry of Trade explained that the highest selling price of vanilla beans in 2018 was USD 650/kg and in 2020 the price of vanilla beans weakened to USD 200/kg (Ministry of Trade of the Republic of Indonesia, 2020, #).

Even though the selling price does not always increase, Indonesia should still be active in cultivating vanilla because the world needs vanilla as a raw material for the culinary industry. Besides culinary, vanilla can also be used as a raw material for making cosmetics, perfumes, herbs, and essential oils. Therefore, the uses of vanilla production can be Indonesia’s potential to continue to be an economic contributor and cultivate sustainable vanilla which can become a country as one of the countries that can meet the needs of the community from the manufacture of culinary raw materials to cosmetics. that people use in their daily life.

In addition, Indonesia is important to strengthen its potential to promote vanilla through public diplomacy activities, in which public diplomacy activities through the promotion of vanilla, Indonesia can introduce vanilla products to the international community abroad. where the international community recognizes the characteristics of Indonesian vanilla, this can improve Indonesia’s nation branding which shows that Indonesia produces a lot of spices, one of which is vanilla which can be used for various community needs. Indonesia can maximize its potential and introduce nation branding through international events or international expos which are attended by the international community from various countries. Through this activity in the future, Indonesia can maximize the wealth of spices as a nation branding as a superior country and has a lot of potential that can contribute to meeting the daily needs of people in the world.

Ramadhan Dwi Saputra
Ramadhan Dwi Saputra
Research Assistant at Universitas Islam indonesia