London, April 3 (IANS) Vanilla, one of the world's favourite flavours - and also one of the most expensive - is grown mainly in Madagascar, Mexico and India. But a worldwide shortage of vanilla pods could send ice cream prices soaring, experts have warned.
Trade journal The Grocer said Mexico and India have suffered poor crops this year. That has paved the way for traders to stock up early on the unaffected crop from Madagascar, knowing the country now has a virtual monopoly, the Daily Mail reported Tuesday.
Madagascar produces around 2,000 tonnes of black vanilla a year.
Opportunists are now stockpiling the spice, which is pushing up prices in commodity markets. Vanilla is pricier any other spice - except saffron - because of its time-consuming production. It is grown in pods on a particular variety of orchid.
The cost of the spice has already gone up from $25 to $30 per kg, after being stuck at about $25 a kilo for around six years.
Although it is most famously used for ice cream, vanilla is an ingredient in many other foods and is even used in medicines and perfume.
The Grocer said: "Buyers are right to be nervous. The vanilla markets does not tend to move often but when it does, price spikes can be extreme."
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