Sustainability Initiatives and Social Responsibility

Lochhead Mfg. Company (“LMCO”) is committed to corporate social responsibility and promoting sustainable farming practices. Sustainability and social responsibility are important in making sure that we have and will continue to have the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment.

Here’s some more information about our internal and external company sustainability initiatives:

First and foremost, LMCO purchases the highest quality conventional and certified organic vanilla beans from family farmers and collectors in Madagascar and other growing regions. Because high quality beans require more time on the vine and better overall growing conditions in terms of soil retention, sunlight and drainage, purchasing high quality beans encourages the family farmers to care for their small plats of land with a long term vision that is sustainable over the long haul. Many of the farmers and collectors that supply our vanilla beans have been cultivating vanilla vines for generations within their families – illustrating the sustainability of their farming practices.

LMCO incorporates other sustainable and socially responsible practices into its day-to-day operations and long term vision. Our sustainability and social responsibility initiatives can be categorized under two general headings: 1) Internal Company Practices; and 2) External Initiatives.

Internal Company Practices:

Sustainability and Social Responsibility are a constant consideration at LMCO, and all corporate decisions are viewed through that lens. Some of the programs we have initiated within the Company are as follows:

  1. Energy Efficiency: Heat is turned down during off hours, and lights kept off in unoccupied areas of plant / offices
  2. Waste Management: We strive to minimize waste in all facets of our operation
  3. Recycling Program: we recycle paper, cardboard & plastic
  4. Sustainable Packaging: Our packaging materials are all recyclable
  5. Reductions in packaging materials: We always encourage customers to opt for our lowest impact packaging (drums & totes)
  6. Reductions in Transport Waste: We utilize freight logistics programs to reduce transportation waste and make efforts to ship/receive finished goods or ingredients on full truckloads or back hauls whenever possible

External Initiatives:

Our external Sustainability Initiatives are designed to improve the lives of the numerous small vanilla farmers in the SAVA region of Madagascar and improve the quality of their vanilla production. This in turn, should foster greater economic vitality for the family vanilla farmers and ensure the availability of high quality vanilla for our customers and future generations.

In the Fall of 2012, one of our co-owners George Lochhead visited the vanilla bean producing SAVA Region of Madagascar. The focus of the visit was to purchase vanilla beans from the harvest that was currently underway, to assess flowering of vanilla orchids as an indicator of next year’s crop, and to discuss sustainability issues with local farmers. It was during this trip that George noticed a basic need that was not being filled for the small farmers and their families. That basic need was clean drinking water.

Many of the small villages in the mountainous SAVA Region have no fresh water wells, but instead rely solely on rivers that wind their way through the dense mountainous jungle to the ocean. These rivers provide the local Malagasy villagers with water for everything from recreation and washing clothes, to cooking and drinking water. Depending on whether a village is “upstream” or “downstream” can dramatically impact the water quality that everyone from the smallest infant to the oldest “village elder” must consume to survive. Realizing that this basic need of fresh, clean water was not available to many of the vanilla bean farmers and their families prompted the idea to initiate our “VanWell Project” that is currently underway.


Goal: to provide a source of fresh drinking water to local villagers in parts of the SAVA vanilla bean growing region while purchasing sustainable production of high quality conventional and certified organic vanilla beans.

Through our VanWell Project, we installed the first freshwater well in the village of “Mandena” in September 2013. As we have continued to install wells in the SAVA region, the project has been received as a tremendous success. Each well supplies clean water every day to villages of up to 2,000 people. We are excited to keep working with the Malagasy people to install another well!

Along with the VanWell project, of course, we continue to look forward to purchasing high-quality vanilla beans at market price from farmers in the villages of the SAVA region for years to come. George Lochhead, along with his daughter Sage, will continue to visit Madagascar periodically to view the vanilla orchids and bean crops, negotiate vanilla bean purchases, and identify more villages for freshwater well installations. A heartfelt “THANK YOU!” to our customers and friends for their ongoing support, which allows us to make the VANWELL PROJECT a reality!