We keep hearing about the prices of chocolate and coffee rising due to changes in climate that have made the cocoa bean crop much harder to cultivate. Now, let's talk about what's going on with the vanilla bean.
Foodbeast reports that vanilla prices are at the highest they've been since 2003, rising from about $200-$250 per kilogram to $500 per kilogram. What's causing the ruckus? Madagascar, where 85 percent of the world's vanilla is produced, has reported a decrease in crop turnout for 2016 … and it's not the kind of decrease that we can shrug our shoulders at. The regular 2,000 metric ton harvest has fallen to 1,200 metric tons, which will cause prices of our precious vanilla to begin increasing.
This kind of increase doesn't just affect your everyday vanilla ice cream. Think about Oreos, donuts, cakes and anything else that involves the vanilla signature flavor. Other countries who harvest the bean, like Indonesia, are working to pick up some of the slack so that the market doesn't completely tank, but we're hoping this is a one-time thing . Just maybe this is as high as the vanilla price will get, especially with other countries pitching in to help out.
Food Business News reports that right now, vanilla manufacturers are urging customers to buy less vanilla. That must be rough! But they say that when customers see prices hike, they sort of panic and buy a ton of the product, which only makes the problem worse.
The president of one such vanilla-providing company said “No. 1 is not to stock up. When (the food and beverage companies) see these prices going up, they want to order four times what they normally do, and that just exacerbates the problem. Have patience. Don’t panic.”
The general hope is that when Madagascar's crops from 2016 all come in, in November or December of 2017, they'll be improved in number and we won't have to worry about this for much longer. “Although this is a time of fluctuation in the vanilla market, it is expected the current situation will be short-lived,” said the CEO of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, Inc. of Waukegan, Illinois. “The flowering for [the 2016 crop] was good, and prices may start to drop in the fourth quarter of 2016.”
I'm not sure whether or not this is wishful thinking, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed all the same. I don't want to replace delicious vanilla bean with any imitation flavors!