Vanilla: You know it, you love it, you bake with it. (Only the good kind. Right, Ina?) But this year you might be seeing less of the baking staple.
There’s a worldwide shortage of the vanilla crop, and it’s causing prices to skyrocket. OK, but how much?
The wholesale price is now $500 to $600 per kilo (about two pounds), which is ten times more than it was a few years ago. Um, that’s more expensive than silver. Right now, you might pay $16 for four ounces of pure extract, but that could easily double within the year.
You can thank last year’s nasty weather for the current lack of crop. Adding to the shortage is the fact that vanilla is one of the most labor-intensive foods in the world. Long story short: Eighty percent of vanilla comes from Madagascar, but it’s actually native to Mexico. Because its native pollinators (i.e., birds and bugs) aren’t around, Madagascar’s vanilla orchids must be pollinated by hand. Whoa. That, plus the fact that it can take as long as five years for a flower to produce pods, has the food world shaking in its boots.
We’ll have to wait until June’s harvest to see the damage. Until then... *Runs to stock up on extract*