Vanilla and men
For 150 years, it was the French colonies that carried the torch for the development of crosses, perfumes, preparation and drying techniques, which still places them today at the forefront of the quality of the finished product.
However, the vanilla planet experienced a first major economic shock at the turn of the 90s. Under pressure from the World Bank, to which it owed a lot of money, Madagascar was forced to give up its price controls, abandoning its peasants. vanilla trees in the merciless grip of the world's major flavor producers such as Coca Cola, Nielsen-Massey or Nestlé.
Eventually, control measures were introduced to counterbalance the savage capitalism facing the peasants, and a system of approval and market opening limited to specific dates was put in place.
Only 200 licenses are issued each year to collectors who soon found themselves struggling with the laws of a cruel market. When some made a fortune at the beginning by buying vanilla from farmers at a low price and selling it at a high price, several collectors went bankrupt when prices collapsed, abandoned by their buyers and still holders of vanilla bought above the market. selling price.
Over the past four years, prices have rebounded to a high level, flirting with the $ 600 mark in 2018 and rarely falling below $ 400 since. (The going price in fall 2019 was around $ 420 per kilo.) The spike is sometimes attributed to a 2015 announcement by Nestlé SA that the company would only use all-natural vanilla in its products instead of l artificial flavor. Other companies have followed suit. The real impact of the decision is the subject of debate.
Regardless of the validity of these speculations, few people in the industry say that the demand for natural vanilla has changed enough to protect prices from another drop. Almost everyone in the vanilla industry thinks that a significant drop in prices is not a question of if, but rather of when.
And when more than 80% of the vanilla industry comes from the island of Madagascar alone, the rest of the world takes its cold.