Organic vanilla powder has been unavailable from the suppliers for approximately 6 months or so now and so Woodstone Pantry decided to do some research as to why.
About vanilla production
Vanilla is a very popular ingredient for cooking and baking, however the cost and supply of this delicious flavouring is currently very unstable.
Vanilla is a very intensive crop to grow. It is grown primarily in small tropical countries including Madagascar and Tahiti. Vanilla beans grow on orchid flowers on the vanilla vine and it takes 3 years for the plant to become mature and grow a vanilla bean.
In the wild, vanilla flowers are pollinated by a specific type of bee which are small enough to enter the narrow orchid flower. However, even if these special bees are close by, vanilla orchids only have a 1% chance of successful pollination.
In order to produce enough vanilla to sell commercially, farmers artificially hand pollinate. Check out this video which shows you the delicate and time consuming process this entails.
After pollination, there is a lengthy 6 month process involving curing, drying, sweating and grading the vanilla to get the final product.
So, as you can see, vanilla production is a very lengthy and time consuming process which can be easily disrupted.
Why is vanilla currently low in supply?
Madagascar grows most of the world's vanilla supplies, allowing them to set the global price. Due to poor crops, drought and other production issues, the supply of vanilla has dramatically decreased. Consequently, the price of vanilla has increased from around $11 USD/pound in 2011 to a huge $193 USD/pound at the end of 2016!
When will vanilla be back in stock?
Although the global vanilla supply and price is still unstable, here at Woodstone Pantry we will endeavour to keep you updated and continue to provide only ethically sourced ingredients. Hopefully in the near future high quality, fairtrade vanilla will become available.
In the meantime, why not try some flavouring alternatives such as chai spices, cacao, lucuma powder, mesquite powder and of course cinnamon!