Welcome to the third nail-biting year of the current vanilla cycle. While we will keep you apprised of any substantial dips in the market, it is looking like we’re facing another high year. As of now, with extract grade vanilla coming in from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, the prices aren’t looking higher, so that’s the good news. However, since we are still dealing with a catch-up in supply and demand, the market remains tight. We will keep you apprised as the harvests start around the world.
One interesting trend coming out of this particular crunch is an increase in manufacturing companies going straight to the source—mainly Madagascar—to acquire beans directly from exporters. This seems to be increasing instability in the region, as the export-import industry keeps out some of the frenetic price wars that must happen when manufacturers go to the mat in vanilla regions. It’s a circus!
On the ground in Tonga, where an export-import system does not exist at all, we’re seeing just how much uglier things get when companies compete.
But I want to share some good, happy-making news. Typically in years when prices are high, quality diminishes. But this year in Tonga it’s the best I’ve seen in about three years, thanks to a doubling-down of efforts by MAFFF (Ministry of Agriculture, Farms, Forests, and Fisheries) officials to maintain the quality control of the harvest. Growers must pick yellow in order to get the A-grade price, and so the vanilla at the market is absolutely gorgeous. With Tavake and Soeli catching us up with years and years of experience with the chemistry behind vanilla curing, our vanilla beans are looking and smelling truly extraordinary. Even with the stresses of the market, you must show love for the vanilla. And showing love means knowing it—the feel, the look, the aroma.