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Ice cream price increase in New York tracked back to high vanilla prices in Africa

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) —  You’re going to be paying more for vanilla ice cream. The global price of vanilla beans has gone up due to a poor harvest in Madagasgar last year.

The African island is one of the world’s largest suppliers of vanilla beans. The shortage means you’ll pay more for vanilla ice cream, even in Western New York.
At Nick Charlap’s Ice Cream in Hamburg, vanilla has been a signature flavor since the 1960’s.

“You have to have it, it’s definitely a staple in the ice cream business. If you make a good vanilla you make a good ice cream,” said Nick Charlap, owner of Nick Charlap’s Ice Cream.

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But to make it vanilla flavoring that comes from vanilla beans is a critical ingredient. Owner Nick Charlap makes all of the ice cream in his store and says vanilla gallon prices have tripled since last summer.“It went from about almost 3 times the amount from 20 to about 60 and I think this year it’s about 62 dollars per gallon,” said Charlap.

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When supply isn’t keeping up with demand, that means a hike in price. Charlap says a small vanilla cone is up by about 15 cents, a medium by about 25 cents, and a large is about 40 cents more.
“You can’t take away the quality for quantity and try to cut costs with stuff like that so we try to do our best with cutting back and if we have to raise prices we just roll with the times and raise the price,” said Charlap.

Between his 4 store locations – Charlap says about 40 ounces of vanilla flavoring is used per 100 gallons of ice cream mix. That produces about 300 gallons of ice cream.
“We use vanilla in probably 10 to 12 of our other flavors just outside of our signature vanilla,” said Charlap.

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Despite the slight increase in cost, Charlap says it’s worth the creamy rich flavor.
Perry’s Ice Cream President and CEO Bob Denning acknowledged that ingredient pricing is always subject to ups and downs, and he says Western New Yorkers can expect to see some measured effect at grocery stores.

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