Vanilla and Beyond: Exploring the EU-ASEAN Partnership's Impact on Food Security and High-Value Commodities


Dirgantara Reksa

4/28/20235 min read

black and white straight line
black and white straight line

The EU-ASEAN partnership on food security, recently announced, marks a significant milestone in the collaborative efforts of these two regional powerhouses. This ambitious undertaking will benefit both sides economically and contribute to enhancing global food security and sustainable growth. One noteworthy aspect of this alliance is the technology transfer and its potential to foster a robust import-export ecosystem for high-value commodities, such as vanilla.

Vanilla, often called "green gold," is a high-value agricultural product. Madagascar has long dominated its cultivation and trade, accounting for approximately 80% of the global supply.1 However, this partnership could help diversify the production landscape and create new opportunities for European and Southeast Asian nations.

The ASEAN-EU 45 Years Commemorative Summit 2022 marked an essential step in strengthening the relationship between the two regional blocs, providing a solid foundation for the ambitious EU-ASEAN partnership on food security. The Joint Leaders' Statement issued during the summit highlights both parties' shared goals and commitments to addressing global challenges and furthering sustainable development.2

In particular, the Joint Leaders' Statement emphasizes the significance of the ASEAN-EU Comprehensive Partnership and the mutual desire to elevate this relationship to a strategic partnership. The food security collaboration, including the technology transfer for high-value commodities like vanilla, is a crucial component of this comprehensive partnership and reflects the shared vision of both regions to foster sustainable and inclusive growth.

The summit also recognized the importance of the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Both the EU and ASEAN leaders reiterated their commitment to promoting the sustainable use of natural resources and enhancing resilience in the face of climate change. The focus on sustainable vanilla production within the EU-ASEAN food security partnership aligns with these global commitments, emphasizing the need for environmentally responsible agricultural practices.

Moreover, the Joint Leaders' Statement underlines the importance of cooperation in various fields, such as science, technology, and innovation. The technology transfer aspect of the EU-ASEAN partnership on food security is a prime example of this cooperation in action, leveraging the EU's advanced agricultural expertise to bolster ASEAN countries' capacity in vanilla production and other high-value commodities.

Vanilla Ventures: Assessing Market Potential, Tackling Challenges, and Crafting a Sustainable Future

In the context of the EU-ASEAN partnership, it is essential to consider the current state of the vanilla market in Indonesia, which is poised for significant growth in the coming years. According to a comprehensive report by Worldwide Market Reports (WMR), the Indonesian vanilla market is expected to witness substantial growth between 2021 and 2026, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.6% during this period.3

One of the key factors driving this growth is the increasing demand for natural and organic food products, especially among health-conscious consumers. As a result, the demand for pure, high-quality vanilla has soared, and Indonesia is well-positioned to capitalize on this opportunity. The EU-ASEAN partnership further reinforces this positive outlook, as it promises to bolster the Indonesian vanilla industry through technology transfer and sustainable agricultural practices.

The WMR report also highlights the role of key market players in the Indonesian vanilla industry. These companies have been instrumental in developing the market and will continue to play a crucial role as the industry expands. Moreover, with the support of the EU-ASEAN partnership, these market leaders will be better equipped to meet the growing demand for high-quality vanilla in the global market.

Furthermore, the report identifies several segments within the Indonesian vanilla market, including conventional and organic vanilla, as well as various application areas such as food and beverages, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. The EU-ASEAN partnership will likely facilitate growth in all these segments by promoting the adoption of advanced farming technologies and fostering innovation in vanilla processing and utilization.
The technology transfer element of this partnership could revolutionize vanilla production in ASEAN countries, such as Indonesia, which already ranks among the top vanilla producers globally. In addition, the EU will enable ASEAN countries to optimize their vanilla production processes, increase yield, and enhance quality by introducing cutting-edge agricultural innovations, such as precision farming, gene editing, and vertical farming.

Moreover, the partnership aims to promote sustainable farming practices, ensuring that the expansion of vanilla production does not come at the cost of environmental degradation. This focus on sustainability is significant, as climate change poses a significant threat to global food security. The collaboration in sustainable agricultural practices will improve the environmental footprint of vanilla production and create a model for other high-value commodities.

Increased production of high-quality vanilla in the ASEAN region will substantially affect the global market, as Europe is one of the largest consumers of this valuable spice. In addition, the partnership will foster an efficient import-export network, ensuring a steady supply of vanilla to meet the growing demand in the European market. This will help stabilize vanilla prices and potentially reduce the reliance on established exporter countries, mitigating risks associated with single-source dependency.

However, the benefits of this partnership extend beyond vanilla. By leveraging the EU's technological prowess and the ASEAN region's agricultural potential, this alliance will catalyze the growth of other high-value commodities. Additionally, the increased interdependence between the two regions will promote political stability and economic cooperation, further reinforcing the importance of this partnership.


In conclusion, the Indonesian vanilla market is on the verge of substantial growth in the coming years, driven by the rising global demand for natural and organic food products. This growth is further bolstered by the EU-ASEAN partnership on food security, which concentrates on technology transfer and sustainable agriculture to transform the vanilla industry in Indonesia and other ASEAN countries.

The commitments made during the ASEAN-EU Commemorative Summit 2022 highlight the importance of addressing trade and technology transfer challenges while fostering sustainable growth and innovation in the agricultural sector. Furthermore, this collaboration will have far-reaching implications on high-value commodities like vanilla, contributing to global food security challenges.

By working together, Europe and Southeast Asia can create stronger economic ties, paving the way for a prosperous future. In addition, the EU-ASEAN partnership demonstrates the significance of international collaboration in addressing pressing global issues, such as sustainable development and food security.

Robust partnerships like the EU-ASEAN alliance are crucial in an increasingly complex and interconnected world. As we look to the future, these alliances must remain adaptable and responsive to emerging challenges, continuously prioritizing sustainable development and ensuring that global food security remains at the forefront of our collective efforts.

Through a shared commitment to technology transfer, sustainable agriculture, and fostering economic growth, the EU-ASEAN partnership on food security can serve as a model for future collaborations between Europe and Southeast Asia, and other regions worldwide. By working together, we can navigate the complexities of the modern world and build a more sustainable and secure future for all.


Dirgantar Reksa is an operation and partnership specialist with extensive experience in international organizations and governments in Asia-Pacific and Europe region. He is also a Co-Founder of Indonesia Food Security Review.