Vanilla Shortage: Rocky Road For Ice Cream Prices

Apr 4, 2012 12:33pm
gty vanilla ice cream thg 120404 wblog Vanilla Shortage: Rocky Road For Ice Cream Prices

                                                    (Image credit: Paul Taggart/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

We already imagined an Easter without chocolate bunnies…but could you survive a summer without vanilla ice cream?

If you can’t, be prepared to pay more:  the cost of a scoop of vanilla ice cream could go up 10 percent this summer amid a shortage of vanilla pods, Mintec analysts say.

A poor harvest in vanilla-producing countries, Mexico and India, has caused more users to buy beans from Madagascar.  Production of the beans fell 90 percent in Mexico and Indonesia last year.  The monopoly in Madagascar has resulted in an increase of wholesale prices from $25 per kilogram to $35 to $40 in two months.

The Telegraph reported that about 40 percent of the world’s supply was shipped out of Madagascar due to an increase in orders.

“The stocks in the world are being run down and we are getting to a point now where we are likely to see the price suddenly shoot upwards,” Mintec business development director Nick Peksa said.

The labor intensive process of vanilla harvesting makes it the second most expensive spice, next to saffron, which sells for an average of $5 per gram.  Vanilla beans are harvested once a year but the cultivation process from planting to storefront can take up to six years.

“It is the most expensive ingredient in ice cream production per kilogram, so it is highly likely that some producers will not be able to absorb the extra cost,” Peksa said “It could push the price of ice cream up by around 10 per cent.”

Ice cream isn’t the only product expecting a price increase: medicines, perfumes and food production will also be affected by the shortage.

For those who don’t mind the synthetic stuff, brands that use vanillin will not suffer a price increase.

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