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April 23, 2018

Global price spike forces Maine ice cream maker to forego vanilla

Linda Parker, the owner of Mount Desert Ice Cream, doesn't plan to make or sell vanilla ice cream in her shops in Bar Harbor, Portland or Washington, D.C., due to a global supply crisis.

Parker told the Bangor Daily News that vanilla "beans used to be $100 per pound, with about 100 beans in a pound. It's gone up to about $450. And there's a lot of talk of there being no beans for sale at all."

Patricia Rain of the Vanilla Co., a California-based retail and wholesale vanilla business, told the BDN the price has shot up due to a vanilla shortage over the past few years. Kathy Chamberlain, who makes super-premium Stone Fox Farm Ice Cream in Monroe, said the price spike has led her to consider using artificial vanilla extract.

According to a February 2018 report by Nielsen-Massey, a flavorings company in Waukegan, Ill., Madagascar, off the eastern coast of southern Africa, is the source of nearly 80% of the world's vanilla.

The "global market for vanilla has experienced tremendous volatility in recent years, as the entire supply chain has struggled with price fluctuations, limited supply and poor farming and harvesting practices that harm the quality of beans," the report says. "Trends in Madagascar such as vacuum packing, quick curing of green vanilla and extraction of green vanilla beans have all had a considerable negative effect on the quality of production."

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