It's in ice-cream, cookies and cake... And now vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world after saffron..
A kilo of vanilla beans costs 520 dollars...pricier than a kilo of silver or wagyu beef... That's because Madagascar, which produces nearly 80% of the world's vanilla, has been hit with widespread crop theft and two devastating cyclones in 2017 and 2018....which destroyed about three-quarters of the island's vanilla crop.... The result: soaring prices and an industry struggling to adapt.
Reuters Correspondent Richa Naidu SOUNDBITE RICHA NAIDU, REUTERS CORRESPONDENT SAYING: "Any company that buys natural vanilla is being hit by this- that ranges from Nestle to General Mills to Mccormick.
Mccormick is the biggest spice company in the world and they're one of the biggest vanilla buyers in the world.
What they're doing is trying to cultivate a new source of vanilla in Indonesia.
The 2017 cyclone made them realize that its actually pretty risky to source all of this very important material from one island in the world that's cyclone-prone.
" But McCormick's bet on Indonesia as the next big vanilla producer....might be tricky to pull off..
Currently Indonesia produces about 100 tonnes of bourbon vanilla a year, a far cry from Madagascar's output of over 2000 tonnes..
That's because vanilla is not an easy crop to cultivate... SOUNDBITE RICHA NAIDU, REUTERS CORRESPONDENT SAYING: "They have to be hand-pollinated during a 4 hour window pre-dawn.
They need certain soil and water conditions.
They need to be grown 10- 20 degrees from the equator, which is why they're only grown in certain parts of the world...vanilla beans.
And it takes about 3-4 years before a new vanilla plant can even start producing beans.
" In the meantime- McCormick and other food companies like Nestle and General Mills are grappling with vanilla prices that have surged 500 percent in the past four years...sometimes passing on those higher costs to consumers and retailers... so you might have to keep that craving for vanilla ice cream this summer in check.