Madagascar Vanilla Shortage Could Raise Ice Cream Costs

Vanilla ice cream
Vanilla ice cream

If the main favorite in your ice cream parlor is still vanilla, perhaps it is time to pull off a price increase. A bad harvest in Madagascar has led to a price surge for its most prized crop, vanilla beans, reports The Guardian. This could lead to a rising tide of ice cream prices around the world.News from eater.com says that:

Vanilla prices have been steadily rising since last year s poor Madagascan harvest, but the price has especially spiked over the past few months as supplies are dwindling. Food Business News says in 2011 the price of vanilla beans hovered around $20 a kilogram, and by this January they would risen above $200 a kilogram.

Vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world, after saffron, a result of its long and labour-intensive cultivation. Each flower has to be pollinated by hand – something that is possible only on one particular day during the growing season – and once the pods are ready to be picked they must then be cured for as long as
six months. Madagascar vanilla is famed for its creamy, sweet flavor that makes it especially popular with ice cream makers such as Haagen Dazs.

While in the past, some companies would switch to artificial vanilla flavoring substitutes when the price of vanilla got too high. That is no longer an option for many such as Nestle and General Mills that are now going the “all-natural” route – meaning demand is now even higher.

Thankfully, industry experts are predicting that this year s harvest, which will begin shipping in November, should be more plentiful. In the meantime, perhaps a switch to chocolate – or literally any other flavor – ice cream is in order this summer.

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