Good news for consumers: the world market price for vanilla is easing after years of rising prices.
In madagascar, as the world’s largest growing region, exporters expect prices for the "queen of spices" to fall significantly as a result of changes in consumer behavior. "The decline in demand on the international market has led some in madagascar to offer prices far below those of the previous year," explained the head of the vanilla exporters association, georges geeraerts.
In sambava, the main hub for the vanilla business in the northeast of the island, the marketing campaign is still in full swing until the end of may. There, tsiry cristin rakotomalala, managing director of the export company RTHMC, also confirms the trend: "at the beginning of the marketing campaign, we were still selling at prices between 450 and 490 dollars per kilo, but now buyers are expecting prices around 300 dollars per kilo."To avoid a brutal price collapse of the important foreign exchange earner, the ministry of commerce published a reference price for the export of 350 dollars per kilogram at the end of february – in 2019 it was 550 dollars.
According to many growers on the island off africa’s eastern coast, the reason is a change in consumer behavior with regard to the important ingredient for sub-products such as ice cream, pudding, cakes, cookies, yogurt, sweets, but also for fragrances, soaps, shampoos, body lotions, bath additives or room fragrances. "We don’t have enough demand from our german, american and asian customers," rakotomalala admits, and provides an explanation: "my customers explain that people use half natural and half artificial vanilla in new recipes for ice cream, for example, because of the costs involved."
The island nation, which according to the national export association supplies around 80 percent of the world’s needs, determines global price trends with its production. The price of vanilla there has risen steadily since 2014 from $70 per kilo – just the year before, vanilla was among the most expensive spices in the world. The reason for the high price is also the complex production process of the pods of the liana-like climbing plant from the orchid genus.
However, not all producers in madagascar view the price reduction negatively. "When prices go down, there is less theft," said the grower gilbert raveloarison from the andapa district. The next harvest season starts in june/july. If there is no damage from cyclones, growers expect a very good harvest.