With its use in a variety of foods, Vanilla is the second most valuable spice in the world. As such, it is often a target for synthetic and origin fraud.
Vanilla is a well-known and often-used spice, with Madagascan vanilla being the most expensive and sought-after variety. Used in things from ice cream to chocolate, as well as a range of other confectionary, it plays a part in our everyday lives. However, the rising costs of natural vanilla (from pods) often means that producers are faced with increased financial strain. Synthetic vanillin, made from chemical synthesis, already covers much of the demand for vanilla flavouring at a greatly reduced cost. However, it cannot be called 'natural' flavouring.
The problem with vanilla
Madagascan vanilla, one of the most popular varieties, makes up roughly 60-80% of the world's vanilla supply. The vanilla is grown on small farms and pollinated and picked by hand, which means the process is highly labour-intensive. Vines of the vanilla plant take a few years to mature enough to produce vanilla pods, so any increased production is gradual.
Cyclones are a danger for Madagascan vanilla production.