Bad news for bakers, ice cream makers, confectionery wizards, and anyone else with a need to keep vanilla beans and extracts at the ready: it looks like we’re in for a vanilla crisis this year. Poor vanilla crops are leading to a shortage, according to reports, and hoarders are making the problem even worse.
Unlike the infamous Norway Butter Crisis of 2011, the current vanilla shortage of 2012 does not appear to be so self-contained. Vanilla is only grown in a few countries with the right climate and The Telegraph reports that vanilla crops are down in India and Mexico, two of the world’s major suppliers. In Mexico, vanilla crops dropped off by a staggering 90 percent.
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The problems with commodity shortages never seem to stop with the shortage itself – news of the shortage is starting to cause a run on vanilla as commodity traders stock up on Madagascar vanilla to beat rising prices (and rising, they most certainly are):
International commodity traders are thought to be stocking up early on the unaffected crop from Madagascar knowing it now has a virtual monopoly on it.
It is understood that around 40 per cent of the world supply of black vanilla – around 1,000 tonnes – was recently shipped out of Madagascar following a sudden jump in orders.
In just two months the global price of vanilla has risen from around 25 dollars per kilo to between 35 and 40 dollars.
With summer coming up, everyone’s talking ice cream. But in reality, the consequences of this shortage will run a lot deeper than that. It’s not as though ice cream has a monopoly on the world’s vanilla supply – everything from cake to beer will take a beating. But the fact that experts are expecting that the price of ice cream could rise by as much as 10 percent does paint a concise picture of what’s to come. So we hope everyone enjoyed Ben and Jerry’s Free Cone Day on Monday, because until the next harvest comes around it’s all downhill from here.