A combination of climate change, crime and market speculation has driven the price of vanilla to record highs, simultaneously damaging the quality of natural vanilla pods. Ahead of harvest season in the southern hemisphere, and summer in the northern hemisphere, the almost default ice cream flavour choice may not be as ubiquitous as usual.
Vanilla is found in everything from ice cream to bourbon, but most of the World’s vanilla comes from one place, the island of Madagascar. (80% of the world’s vanilla) The uncertainty over this year’s harvest, set to start this month, has sent vanilla prices soaring. Vanilla prices have nearly doubled in the last year, and quadrupled in the last four years. DanWatch, a Danish investigative group, uncovered child labour and pitiful wages on Madagascar’s vanilla plantations. The price increase has also attracted crime, with armed robbers ripping vines out of the ground.’ The 2017 Madagascar crop could very well be the worst quality crop delivered to the market in decades’ a vanilla distributor warned in May.