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Does The World’s Vanilla Shortage Mean Pricier Ice Cream?

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There is a vanilla shortage world-wide. Normally, you may not think much about that, but it could mean paying more for ice cream this summer.

Vanilla harvests were way down in many countries due to the weather, leading some experts to predict as much as a 10 percent increase for a scoop of vanilla this summer.

India, Indonesia, Mexico and Madagascar are the major vanilla-producing countries. Vanilla harvests fell more than 90 percent in Mexico and India, leading experts to predict a vanilla monopoly in Madagascar and ultimately a price hike.

However, local ice cream makers don’t plan on raising vanilla prices just yet, because they haven’t felt the effects overseas.

“We don’t anticipate any price increases or having any effect on our price over the next year,” said Greg Hefferan of Sebastian Joe’s Ice Cream in Minneapolis.

Hefferan’s business is benefitting from an early spring, putting business six weeks ahead of schedule. And they don’t plan on changing their vanilla prices any time soon.

“Madagascar is the dominant force in the vanilla market and that’s where we get our vanilla. They control up to 60 percent of the market and there haven’t been any issues with the Madagascar market just yet,” said Hefferan.

Izzy’s Ice Cream Shop in St. Paul also said they don’t plan on raising vanilla prices yet.

In 2003, Madagascar was hit by a cyclone that caused vanilla prices to rise 5 times what they are today. They have obviously recovered, and don’t anticipate anything like that this time — at least locally.

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