Vanilla shortage could force ice cream prices up

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LOVERS OF ice cream are in for a shock this summer, as the price of their much-loved cornets is due to increase due to a shortage of a most vital ingredient – vanilla.

Eighty percent of the world’s vanilla beans are grown in Madagascar, where a cyclone in March devastated the crop just as the busy season for ice cream for about to begin.

The result is a sharp increase in vanilla prices, coming to a dessert near you and causing headaches for ice cream shops as their busy season nears.

It’s not just beans. The outlook is equally bleak for vanilla extract. A single gallon has risen from about $40 to $220 in three years.

Ice cream prices in the US are expected to rise as much as 20% in coming weeks, with soft-serve ice cream severely affected because almost all soft-serve treats use extract.

Vanilla beans and extract are used in other baking products, not just ice cream. Within the industry, the search is on for alternative flavourings, but experts say that cannot help but change the flavour.

What are consumers to do? There is a solution.

They can pray for good weather in the Ivory Coast. While South American nations contribute to the world’s crop of cocoa beans, the largest producer is the African nation, which is located on the western side of the continent and distanced from Madagascar, an island to the east.

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