Vanilla Shortage Could Lead to Ice-Cream Price Spike

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Soon, we all could be screaming for ice cream — when we see how much it costs.

According to the Telegraph, wholesale prices of vanilla have risen about 20% in just the past two months. The global price for vanilla averaged around $25 per kilogram previously; new estimates point the price now between $35 and $40.

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Though most manufacturers use synthetic vanillin instead of natural vanilla extract, the price rise would impact producers who rely on the latter — producers like ice cream manufacturers. Ice cream makers are particularly vulnerable because vanilla is the most expensive ingredient per kilogram when it comes to creating the sweet stuff.

The price is expected to climb even higher due to a lack of supply to meet demand, pushing up the price as much as 10%. The spice is the second most expensive after saffron because of its labor requirements.

Part of the reason lies in the production process. Only a handful of countries like Madagascar, Indonesia, India and Mexico produce vanilla. Thus, the price of vanilla is often susceptible to bad yields. In Mexico alone, production is reported to have fallen 90% in the past year.

Nick Peksa, a business development director at market analyst firm Mintec, told the Telegraph, “The stocks in the world are being run down and we are getting to a point now where we are likely to see the price suddenly shoot upwards.”

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Erica Ho is a contributor at TIME and the editor of Map Happy. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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