Organic vanilla is one of our most popular ingredients for cooking and baking. In the past 6 months we have been unable to source affordable organic vanilla powder or organic vanilla beans due to huge increases in cost and lack of supply.
Vanilla is used by the world's food and beverage manufacturers in numerous products including drinks, sweets, cakes, chocolate and even perfume. Recently vanilla has been used as an alternative in sugar-free desserts for it's sweet aroma and flavour.
Vanilla Global Price Increase and Shortage
75 - 80% of the world's vanilla comes from Madagascar and this allows them to set the global price. The cost of vanilla beans has risen from around $11(USD) per pound in 2011 to $193 (USD) by the end of 2016. This huge increase has been due to poor crops, droughts and other production issues.
Vanilla is an intensive crop to grow and produced in small, tropical countries including Madagascar, Tahiti and the West Indies. It can take three years for vanilla plants to become mature with the flower only opening for a small window of time once a day and only once in the season.
In the wild vanilla flowers would by naturally pollinated only by bees of the Melipona genus. If the bees are within range vanilla orchids only a 1% chance of successful pollination. To make commercial vanilla production viable flowers are artificially hand pollinated. Watch this video to see how vanilla is harvested.
After pollination vanilla undergoes curing, drying, sweating and grading with this process taking up to 6 months. The Guardian reported when prices are high there is a risk of thieves stealing vanilla beans so farmers are often tempted to harvest early resulting in poorer quality.
Our Product Update
For the longer term the global vanilla outlook is still unstable. Here at Honest to Goodness we will keep you updated on the pricing and supply changes and hope to have our very popular vanilla powder in stock again soon! Alternative flavourings and suggestions include: Organic Mesquite Powder (has a caramel sweetness), Cacao Powder or Acai Powder.