Vanilla Industry Report May 2019 - Vanilla Prices are Dropping
Gourmet Grade A Uganda Vanilla Beans on Blanket
In May of 2019, a new market report was released by a European company that has been in the vanilla business for more than 100 years and is known for their honest and reliable industry assessments. The report confirmed that the price for vanilla beans has softened, but has a way to go before it will be in the “affordable” category. At this time, most beans are selling for about $400 a kilo at source. For a sense of how this impacts Europe and the US, by the time the vanilla beans are shipped and airport fees, port fees, agent’s fees, custom fees and storage fees are paid, it can be as much as $100 more a kilo by the time everything is paid by the importer.
The quality of the vanilla beans in Madagascar improved last year, and there is still a lot of unsold stock from the 2018 crop. The flowering in Madagascar as well as mainland Africa was late this year and not as plentiful as hoped. Nevertheless, there are enough vanilla beans at this time that there probably won’t be serious shortages. Madagascar’s estimated 2018 crop was between 1600 and 1800 metric tons (mt) with about 1200 mt exported by the end of March of 2019.
While East Africa increased production, quality remains uneven, with some plantations producing decent vanilla beans but the majority producing mediocre quality. At this time there is a lot of unsold vanilla in Uganda and both the farmers and sellers are disappointed as they sit on a lot of beans they’d like to sell.
Mexico had less than 10 metric tons of green vanilla beans this year and the industry appears to be dying. Prices were between $800 and $1000 a kilo and were quickly sold to buyers who depend on Mexican beans. We declined at that price point. Mexico has some incentive to plant to take advantage of the higher prices and vanilla is now growing in Oaxaca, but not enough to help save their industry at this time.
Polynesia and India continue to have low production. Tahiti is growing far less vanilla than it did in the 20th century. However, sellers are attempting to keep their prices higher than Madagascar’s prices, so their market hasn’t been able to grow. Most buyers have been purchasing Tahitian beans from Papua New Guinea for extracts as the price is significantly less expensive.
Papua New Guinea is expected to have between 150 and 200 mt tons of vanilla this year, slightly less than last year. If they’re wise, they should keep up production and produce consistent quality as they’re in a position to establish themselves as a big supplier in the marketplace. However, after the last crisis, they cut production significantly. When the current crisis hit, it took several years to build up stock..
Indonesia is expected to have between 100 and 120 mt tons this year; a segment of that will be imported from Papua New Guinea. They have planted extensively so by 2020 should have a significant crop. Overall quality is okay but not exceptional though some areas are producing very nice beans.