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Vanilla sticks and flower on gray background

Don't call vanilla basic—the in-demand spice now costs as much as silver


WASHINGTON (CIRCA via MOBIUS.LAB) — In Madagascar, vanilla farmers are arming themselves against thieves.

Due to shortages in supply and high demand, vanilla has become the second-most expensive spice, costing as much as silver gram for gram.

Seventy-five percent of the world’s vanilla is grown in Madagascar and Réunion, in the Indian Ocean.

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Growers must pollinate the flower by hand with a tiny stick, within a 24-hour window of blooming, or the flower dies.

Once pollinated, it takes nine months to harvest the pod, making vanilla one of most difficult and laborious spices to cultivate.

Synthetic vanillin had replaced vanilla in many products.

vanillabeans many vanilla beans - viele Vanielleschoten
Vanilla. (wakila/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Recently, consumers have shifted toward all-natural foods, causing the price of vanilla to soar from $60 to $600 per kilogram.

Vanilla has just been upgraded from basic to luxury.


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