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Supply Alternatives

Recommendations on finding alternative  suppliers to support flavoring ingredient supplies in the US during COVID-19.

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Project Parameters

Our class assisted Bell Flavors & Fragrances (a flavor and ingredient manufacturer) in selecting alternative flavoring ingredient suppliers throughout the world in part due to COVID. Our team focused on finding the suppliers for caffeine and vanilla. We researched market needs and identified ingredient quality by conducting consumer perception survey and doing lab analysis on ingredients.

Background Research

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Due to COVID-19, there are many shortages in essential supplies, including flavoring ingredient supplies.

China is a leading manufacturers; however, the pandemic has negatively shifted Americans perspective of China

Current Issues

Need search for alternative countries in global supply chain to source necessary ingredients from

Global Supply Chain

We researched the top 3 produced and exported flavoring ingredients in 6 countries, which are Brazil, Canada, China, India, Mexico and the US.

Brazil: Soybean, Orange, Sugar Cane

Canada: Maple Syrup, Honey, Mustard

China: Apple, Garlic, Corn

India: Chili, Turmeric, Ginger

Mexico: Cilantro, Lime, Mexican Oregano

US: Corn, Soybean, Milk

Identify Ingredient Usage

SWOT Analysis on Ingredients from Different Countries

Climate Effect on Quality of Ingredients

Different ingredients have their optimal growing climates. We researched the climate conditions being most suitable for caffeine, garlic and vanilla growth, and overlayed that information with countries with similar the climate.

Market Research

Consumer Perceptions on Ingredient Purchases

We chose 2 ingredients, caffeine and vanilla, to conduct a consumer perception survey (n=161) on. Then we are able to understand what consumer thinks when buying the ingredient products

Survey and Data Analysis Procedure

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Survey Data Analysis

One of the survey questions asked panelists to rank (1~7) on importance of each potential determining factors for purchasing caffeine and vanilla. Then, we did Friedman test to proved the data is not randomized, and yardstick shows the factors above are not significantly different from each other.


The number presented is calculated by multiplying the average rank value (rank 1 as one value, and rank 7 as seven value) by the number of panelists who answered the question. The smaller the number the more important the factor. 

From these data, we researched on existing studies to find the reasons to prove findings on survey results.

In order to see consumers' opinions on country of origin of different ingredients, we first asked if they care about origins, the ones do care will select the country they would most likely buy each caffeine and vanilla products from. 

From these data, we researched on existing studies to find the reasons to prove findings on survey results.

Lab Analysis

Lab Analysis on Ingredients

To further analyse caffeine and vanilla as flavoring ingredients, experiments on examining caffeine powder and 2 vanilla samples' pH, refractive index, specific gravity are conducted. The experimental results are compared and analyzed. 


-   Mexican Vanilla is more acidic than the Tahitian vanilla (pH)

-   Caffeine has low % dissolved sugar (RF)

-   Tahitian Vanilla has the highest sugar concentration out of all the samples (RF, Specific Gravity)

These chemical characteristics data can be used for further research and product development with caffeine and vanilla.

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Examining from market conditions and product's quality, we came up with recommendations on which alternative countries would be best for providing constant supplies on caffeine and vanilla.


Important determinants on purchases:

- High quality ingredients

- Cost friendly products

- Familiar brands

Actions to take:

- Find coffee bean supplier

- sell caffeine extract to well-known companies

Alternative Supplier:



- Leading producer & exporter 
- High quality beans 
- Competitive price (Robusta Coffee)


Important determinants on purchases:

- Similar friendly products but superior quality ingredients

Actions to take:

- Find vanilla supplier with high quality ingredient in affordable price

Alternative Supplier:



- Leading producer & exporter 
- Preferred over China 
- Competitive price 

Project Information:

Overview: Alternative Suppliers Recommendations,

                 Laboratory and Market Research

Year: 2020                                        

My Contribution: ingredients research for India, climate effect on quality of ingredients, consumer perception survey design and analysis, lab analysis, final presentation

Type: Food Science

Group Project 

Teammates: Chandra Setioadji, Junyu Lao, Katherine Ruiz         

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