Specialty Food Magazine

Winter 2020

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://www.e-digitaleditions.com/i/1194330

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Page 86 of 115

One of the most difficult crops to grow faces challenges on multiple fronts. Vanilla Weathers Supply Fluctuations: What Buyers Should Know BY MARK HAMSTRA 84 SPECIALTY FOOD SPECIALTYFOOD.COM CATEGORY EDUCATION T here's nothing plain about vanilla. The second-most expensive spice in the world (behind saffron) is also one of the most difficult to produce, extracted from the bean pods of certain types of orchids that grow only within a narrow band north and south of the equator. About 80 to 85 percent of the world's crop is produced in Madagascar, where the high value of vanilla makes it a target for theft and corrupt business practices. "It's one of the most expensive spices in the world, and most of it is grown in one of the poorest countries in the world," says Jim Reddekopp, owner of the Hawaiian Vanilla Co., which became the first commercial vanilla farm in the U.S. when it opened about 20 years ago. In addition to Madagascar, which grows the "Bourbon" variety of vanilla (as opposed to Tahitian vanilla, which is produced from a different orchid plant), other countries that produce vanilla include Indonesia, New Guinea, Uganda, and a handful of others. The high price that vanilla fetches—as much as $600 per kilogram wholesale last year—is leading more and more countries to take a closer look at the crop, Reddekopp says. Japan has begun exploring the possibility of vanilla production, and researchers in Europe are also looking at opportunities to use greenhouses to grow vanilla. Research is also underway in Florida concerning potential opportunities for vanilla production there. In recent years, the pressures of supply and demand have been exacerbated by the impact on "Vanilla can manifest a broad range of flavor profiles depending upon the variety of orchid it is produced from and the region's terroir. This is very similar to the differences you see in coffee beans, chocolate, and wine."

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