Is Madagascar’s vanilla under threat?

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Is Madagascar’s vanilla under threat?


The future of vanilla in Madagascar could be threatened, according to experts. Arnaud and Le Comptoir de Toamasina explain all about the threat that is weighing on the vanilla industry in Madagascar.


Brazil a land of coffee and soon of vanilla? 


Brazil alone has the largest number of vanilla varieties in the world, with more than 40 native vanilla varieties. So imagine if Brazil wants to become the world number one in vanilla. Already only Minas Gerais is the first coffee producer in the world if it would be a state. Follow our adventure through Brazil and the world of vanilla and spices.


Vanille de Madagascar the queen of vanillas? 


The vanilla bean is the second most expensive spice in the world after saffron. We advise you to discover our article on the price of saffron and the price of vanilla. Articles that are updated since 2015.

Madagascar vanilla is distinguished by its long and laborious manufacturing process. It is easier to make a black pepper than a vanilla bean.

To give you an idea, it takes 1 year between its pollination and its release for sale.

Discover our article on La culture de la vanille.


In addition, vanilla is going to require a significant investment of time and effort, as well as the involvement of several employees. However, there are a number of issues surrounding this industry, including the following:


How common is crop theft?  Is Madagascar’s vanilla under threat?


Theft, hostility, and murder have all developed due to poverty and the rising price of vanilla. It was easy money.

There have been many articles in the Madagascar Express and we will summarize our experience.

When you saw Destination Vanille on Thalassa, the partner of Comptoir de Toamasina had his vanilla crop stolen from the ground. Just before the harvest. We had to film some scenes elsewhere.

The theft is often done before the week before the harvest. But, you have to know that it is the last week that the vanilla will be loaded with vanillin, the aroma of vanilla.

Today, we see the vanilla producers sleeping with weapons.

The authorities, for their part, have instituted a system of compulsory punching that allows growers to identify their vanilla beans in case of theft. Fearing that their only source of income will be taken away, some farmers harvest their beans before they are fully ripe, even though this practice is illegal. But the police are also increasing their checks.

Calamities caused by Mother Nature to damage and increase the price of vanilla

Cyclones and other bad weather often hit Madagascar because of its location in the center of the Indian Ocean.

No matter that Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot, these natural disasters represent a major danger to agriculture and the Malagasy vanilla industry in particular. The last typhoon, « Enawo », wiped out 30% of the crop.

We can compare with Brazil, where the country will lose a large part of its coffee harvest in 2021 because of the cold that had in July, negative temperatures.  The month of January where you will have heavy rains, first in Bahia and then Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais.

Is Madagascar's vanilla under threat
Is Madagascar’s vanilla under threat

A vanilla that is chemical cheaper than the good vanilla bean


Synthetic vanilla is used more and more by manufacturers because of the increasing cost of real vanilla.

And you should know that the French regulations are strict. If you are going to put vanilla you must have the real vanilla bean inside.

Synthetic vanilla flavor is about 40 times cheaper than the real thing.

So always look at the composition of a vanilla pastry for example.


Speculators the problem of vanilla and raw materials in the world


Vanilla is one of the most sought-after commodities in the food industry, and the major players in this market are always driving up its price to maximize their profits.

Farmers, unlike the middlemen, do not benefit in any way from higher prices.

And today, we see speculation in pepper, spices and even coffee. It is very easy to speculate on a raw material.

In Madagascar, since vanilla is not listed on the stock exchange, it is the exporters who release the vanilla pods piecemeal and make the prices rise.

In coffee, it is the purchase of stock, of future stock to make the quotation soar. Some goods will change owners 3 times during the journey.

Discover our article on the culture of pepper.


Vacuum packing of vanilla a prohibited practice

Some dishonest vanilla manufacturers vacuum pack their vanilla to the point of waterlogging it in order to obtain « juicier » pods.
This technique considerably harms the quality of Madagascar vanilla. And it is forbidden in Madagascar. Vacuum packing of vanilla is a forbidden practice because vanilla is exported in boxes with paraffin paper.
Early harvesting of vanilla and immature beans
Premature harvesting of pods is caused by a number of the conditions listed above.
More and more vanilla growers are harvesting the black gold prematurely because of crop theft.
Vanillin, the chemical that gives vanilla its unique flavor, will not be as high in vanilla that has been picked before it reaches full maturity. It is the last week that the vanilla will take on its full flavor.
The following methods can lead to the loss of the vanilla industry in Madagascar and there is more vanillin in Papua planifolia vanilla than in Madagascar bourbon vanilla.
The price of Madagascar vanilla has increased due to a combination of these factors, especially in light of increased global demand.

Is Madagascar vanilla in danger in the years to come?

The future of Madagascar vanilla is not in danger, despite what has been stated so far, provided that a reorganization of the vanilla sector is undertaken.
To have a stabilization of prices and quality from year to year.
Because it is important to know that Madagascar is 80% of the world’s vanilla production.
Whether it is intended for industry or for resale, its reputation is well established.
And when you hear that you have bourbon vanilla from Madagascar in a dessert, it makes you dream, right?
Therefore, all the actors of the industry will have to take into account the presence of big rivals on the world market who offer a vanilla of comparable quality at a lower cost.
Don’t forget that big industry will have their own plantation.
So visit to keep up to date on vanilla and spice news and if you want to buy vanilla it’s at Comptoir de Toamasina.

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