Why vanilla ice cream could be about to get more expensive

Australia’s favourite ice cream flavor could be about to get more expensive, as the effects of a global price rise in the cost of vanilla start to bite.

Vanilla pods, the key ingredient in a range of food products – including vanilla ice cream – have risen in price to more than $600 per kilo.

It means vanilla pods are now a more expensive commodity than silver.

The price rise, which has caused some independent British ice cream vendors to take vanilla ice cream off the menu, has been steadily increasing over the past year, with the recent spike coming in the last few months.

Over 80% of the world’s supply of vanilla pods come from the Africa island of Madagascar, which has been left reeling after Cyclone Enawo left a third of the vanilla plantations destroyed last year.

Currently, the island nation is under political unrest, with reports of riots commonplace, affecting the supply and transportation of the country’s main export.

As a result of the natural disasters and pollical climate, the price of vanilla pods has risen by almost 500% over the past two years, with many retailers and manufacturers unable to afford the spice.

“A lot of people still come in and ask for vanilla, and when I tell them we don’t have it anymore they think it must be a joke, they can’t believe it,” said ice cream maker Julie Fisher.

“It is very sad as we used it in lots of other flavours. It’s one of our staples.”

The shortage of vanilla won’t just affect ice cream vendors however, as vanilla pods are used in other food items such as cakes and soft drinks, as well as other items such as perfumes. But consumers are being warned to be wary, with Janet Sawyer, spokesperson for the campaign LittlePod, stating that some manufacturers may take advantage of the situation in Madagascar to increase prices.

“Most people take the opportunity when vanilla prices go up,” Ms Sawyer said. “Every year, or one in every four years, there’s a big crisis and prices go up and everyone says ‘we can’t make ice cream’.

“But 97% per cent of vanilla used in the West is artificial so you have got to ask if they are putting up because it’s real vanilla or because they want to put it up.”

A recent Canstar Blue survey identified vanilla as Australia’s favourite ice cream flavor, followed by chocolate, mint, neapolitan and strawberry.

More bad news for ice cream lovers

As if the global vanilla shortage wasn’t enough to dampen the spirits of Aussie ice cream lovers, Coles last week announced a recall for some of its popular ice cream products, after it was found that some may contain metal fragments.

The affected products include the vanilla and almond ranges of the Coles Mini Classics ice creams, which were sold in Coles Supermarkets and Coles Express stores in Western Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT.

The Coles release stated that the affected ice creams will have the following best before dates:

  • Coles Mini Classic Vanilla 360mL 6 pack – best before 16/04/2020 and 17/04/2020
  • Coles Mini Classics Almond 360mL 6 pack – best before 18/04/2020

Customers are advised to return the products to their local Coles supermarket for a full refund, and to seek medical advice if they are concerned about their health.

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