What the worldwide Vanilla shortage means for Ecology Skincare

Vanilla is a beautiful ingredient …it’s aroma is warm, sweet and rich.
The aroma of vanilla has even been shown to lift mood and generate feelings of wellbeing and calmness!

Vanilla also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, which can help to soothe and calm irritated skin and help with wound healing.

This is why we love vanilla and have formulated our products using a vanilla bean extract.

But in the 3 years since we started Ecology Skincare, the price of vanilla beans worldwide has skyrocketed.

You might have noticed that the price of the whole vanilla beans or the vanilla bean extract you use in your cooking has increased …when you can find it!

So many suppliers of high quality natural vanilla are out of stock at the moment.

Why is there a shortage of vanilla?

It seems there are a lot of reasons why there is a current worldwide shortage of vanilla.

Here are some of those reasons:

  • Vanilla has a very small world wide crop compared to cacao or coffee, only 3,000 tonnes are produced annually
  • Vanilla is a very labour intensive crop
  • Vanilla is native to Mexico where it is pollinated by the Melipona bee
  • When grown outside of Mexico in Madagascar, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea or Australia the crop must be hand pollinated with a toothpick within 12 hours of the flower opening
  • 75-80% of the worlds vanilla supply is grown in Madagasacar
  • It takes 3-4 years for the vanilla orchid to begin flowering
  • In 2015, the Madagascan crop was small due to poor flowering 
  • This led to prices going up and beans being picked early while still green
  • The process of drying and curing the beans normally takes 3-6 months. But due to demand, vanilla beans were often vacuum packed early, leading to poor quality beans
  • The worldwide demand for vanilla far outstrips it’s supply
  • In 2015, Nestle announced it would use only natural vanilla in it’s chocolate
  • This put further pressure on supply
  • Much of the 2016 crop was picked while green, by farmers trying to capitalise on prices or avoid their crops being stolen 
  • The price of vanilla beans rose above $500 a kilo in late 2016 – early 2017, when 3 years ago good quality beans were around $20-25 a kilo
  • Tropical cyclone Enowa has damaged some of the 2017 Madagascan crop, putting further pressure on current prices 


What does this mean for Ecology Skincare?

The vanilla we use in our skincare is quite different to the vanilla bean extract you use in your cooking.

It’s extracted using CO2 at high pressure but low temperature. 
Which means there is even less of this kind of ingredient available than there is to the food industry!

We’ve absorbed a lot of the increased costs of continuing to use this beautiful ingredient (the price of vanilla CO2 extract has gone up by 450% since we started sourcing it 3 years ago!) 
We intend to maintain our standard of quality and keep using a natural vanilla bean extract for as long as we can get supply of it, but given the current market climate we’re not sure how long this will be.

Our hope was that the global supply, quality and prices would stabilise later in 2017. But news of the damage wrought by cyclone Enowa has pushed prices up even further. 

No matter what, we will continue to research and source the highest quality ingredients we possibly can. And we will continue to make our Ecology Moisturisers with all of the care you have come to expect of us.


Wishing you silky smooth skin,

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