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Published May 2018

YES OB Vanilla and the Madagascan Vanilla Shortage

You might have noticed that YES OB Vanilla has been out of stock on our website for some time now. Unfortunately, this is due to natural causes that are out of our control, namely an unprecedented shortage of Madagascan vanilla – a key ingredient in our product.

What has caused the shortage?

Back in March 2017, a cyclone hit Madagascar causing severe flooding to vast amounts of the island and consequently destroying approximately one third of the vanilla bean crop. The island of Madagascar has more than three quarters of the world’s vanilla fields1 and due to the recent spike in demand for organic ingredients, this has resulted in a shortage which will affect many companies around the globe.

Pollination of the vanilla plant is a somewhat lengthy process. Originally indigenous to Mexico, the plant was actually introduced to Madagascar in the 1800s and as a result, the island is lacking a specific type of pollinating bee that is found in Mexico.2 Therefore the pollination process must be carried out by the farmers on the plantation by hand.3 It takes around 3 years for a plant to mature and produce beans, so unlike crops harvested annually, it doesn’t have ‘a quick bounce back’.4

We believe that after the cyclone, the island was hit by a plague of mosquitos and as a result the vanilla field was sprayed with chemicals in order to rid them of the insects. Unfortunately this means that it will take a few years before the Madagascan vanilla crop can be certified organic again.

There is good news

However, with an increase in the global demand for vanilla, the price has soared in recent years which means that vanilla farmers are working hard to rebuild their plantations as soon as possible. Vanilla traders and flavouring companies are providing aid and donations to Madagascar’s relief, which will hopefully speed up the process of repairing the crops and livelihoods of the farmers.5

We hope to have YES OB Vanilla back soon, but we may just have to wait a little longer before we can introduce it back into stores and online. YES WB and YES OB are unaffected and so are still available to purchase.

Our thoughts are with the Madagascan farmers and families whose lives have been affected by the damage to the island.

[1] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/vanilla-bean-shortage-madagascar-drives-up-us-prices/
[2] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-15/vanilla-crop-seen-damaged-by-worst-madagascar-storm-in-13-years/
[3] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-15/vanilla-crop-seen-damaged-by-worst-madagascar-storm-in-13-years
[4] https://www.ft.com/content/e0e2fc16-28db-11e7-bc4b-5528796fe35c
[5] https://www.ft.com/content/e0e2fc16-28db-11e7-bc4b-5528796fe35c

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