Vanilla is the most popular ice cream in the world. And yet few people know, that it has recently also become amongst the most expensive ones– if done properly with natural vanilla pods. Are you curious to learn what is the reason for the price increase of vanilla from $20 per kg in 2010 to $800 today?
Vanilla is derived from a particular type of orchid. Its name comes from the Spanish for sheath or pod. It is believed that the vanilla was first introduced to Europe from Latin America, together with the chocolate from the Spanish conquistadors. The highest quality vanilla and the type we also use in Coppa della Maga is the variety called Bourbon vanilla. The plants are hand pollinated, which makes the production labour intensive and costly. But the reason for the spike in the price a few years back is nature – a devastating cyclone in Madagascar, that destroyed the majority of croplands. And since about 70% of the worldwide supply comes from Indonesia and Madagascar, a natural disaster there has wide spread implications in the food industry.
Today, the vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron, which makes it prohibitive for most industrial food products. And yet, vanilla is one of the most popular flavours worldwide, so manufacturers are finding ways to achieve that flavour through synthetical aromas. Nothing, however can replace the rich flavour of the real vanilla, which is formed by several hundred different natural compounds.
It is believed that the vanilla flavour is similar to mother’s milk, so we are naturally attracted by its mild sweetness and taste. Given its worldwide popularity, we believe that vanilla will remain one of the most popular flavours, however we may see more and more often synthetical replacements, so make sure you read carefully the labels. The natural vanilla pods become almost black when ripe and are full of oily liquid with tiny black seeds. These small dots, that you can see in Coppa della Maga Classic Vanilla are full of intense aroma and make it one of the most popular flavours from our portfolio, as well.