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Why is vanilla so expensive? | The Economist

from ice cream to cakes and even perfume

vanilla is the go-to flavor the world

over in recent years the price of

natural vanilla has shot up at one point

it was more expensive than silver by

weight

80% of the world's vanilla is grown in

the perfect lead climate of the

Northeast region of Madagascar it's the

country's primary export crop for the

farmers like Benny Oh Don life's far

sweeter when the vanilla price is high

the alchemy 11 even it's nothing

patrol additionally we confine actually

the venison Mesa fluctuating in 2014

vanilla was 80 dollars a kilo three

years later it was 600 today it's around

$500 the price rises due in part to

global demand the trend of eating

naturally means that food companies have

shunned synthetic flavoring in favour of

the real deal penny and the other

farmers are cashing in the una prisa

decision affirmed our own movie Avatar

Tara pianta loudly Charlie Feeney

but things can change very quickly price

fluctuations affect producers of

agricultural commodities everywhere but

vanilla is particularly volatile in just

a few weeks the price can jump or

plummet by over 20% dang Amazon or Sofia

I had seen the busy city surrounded

liberalization is one reason for such

movements the Malagasy government once

regulated the vanilla industry and its

price but now the price is negotiated at

the point of sale which makes for a

freer market but a more volatile one

it's also a tiny industry a single

cyclone can knock up the entire crop

with in Madagascar it's also a difficult

and delicate crop to grow

vanilla is an orchid that needs to be

hand pollinated this is a really really

labor-intensive practice if anyone has

grown a an orchid at home you experience

how difficult it is to keep an orchid

alive in your house now try growing this

in the middle of a Malagasy rainforest

it takes roughly six months to grow it

on the vine and then six months of

manual post harvesting now the

interesting thing about vanilla is you

need to take it off the vine when it's

almost rotted the growers have to

contend with another problem thieves are

targeting the vanilla crops so Malagasy

now are sleeping out in their vanilla

fields they can't rely on those who are

charged from the state to protect them

or protect their crop they're having to

take matters into their own hands and

this has really caused some some

problems vigilante justice and a whole

host of other violence connected to

vanilla some farmers have resorted to

harvesting the beans before they're

right but this produces a poorer quality

vanilla and ultimately pushes down the

price

the combination of deteriorating quality

and high prices is having an effect

the vanilla price bubble may burst of

the price continues to stay high there's

a number of scenarios that play out we

can continue as as we are now and have a

relatively unstable market where farmers

are growing vanilla under very very

distressful conditions of theft and

violence you could have the state and

corporate sectors afton violence try to

reregulate the market in some way that

might stabilize prices and also quality

or you might just have the market crash

up big buyers that provide vanilla for

the likes of haagen-dazs and Ben and

Jerry's and now working directly with

farmers in a bid to gain greater control

over quality other companies have

started to look elsewhere for their

natural vanilla Indonesia Uganda and

even the Netherlands are growing the

crop

for a century Madagascar has enjoyed a

near monopoly on vanilla but this

industry may be in line for a radical

overhaul