Vanilla bean shortage in Madagascar drives up prices in U.S. (CBS News This Morning link): Vanilla bean prices have soared because of a shortage in Madagascar. The island country has more than three-quarters of the world’s vanilla fields. The ingredient is used in plenty of desserts, baked goods and, of course, ice cream. But supplies are low and demand has spiked, in part because consumers are demanding natural ingredients.
Nestlé Crunch bars now use real vanilla instead of artificial flavoring, but the vanilla shortage has become a bitter pill for businesses to swallow.
At Mother Moo Creamery in Sierra Madre, California, vanilla ice cream is showered with sprinkles, blended with brownies and rolling in root beer. As their number-one seller, its appeal is pretty simple. Owner Karen Klemens says it’s all about the ingredients.
“How important is that Madagascar vanilla?” CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy asked her.
“My vanilla ice cream would not be the same without it,” Klemens said.
Yet these days, she’s losing money on every scoop. Vanilla has surpassed dairy as her biggest cost. The price she pays for a gallon of organic vanilla extract has nearly quadrupled since she first opened her doors five years ago.
“When something goes from a hundred dollars to four hundred dollars, what does that mean to your bottom line?” Tracy asked.
“Well, I just kind of hope that we were going to make it through the season,” Klemens said.
Seventy-nine percent of the world’s vanilla fields are in Madagascar. A shortage there has helped drive up the cost of vanilla beans from about $11 per pound in 2011 to $193 by the end of 2016.