Why Is Vanilla So Expensive?

by Evelyn Brown | Published On

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Vanilla is used in sweet foods for giving flavor. It is often used in sweet foods like ice cream, cake, pastries, pudding etc. It is usually referred to as vanilla extract. Vanilla is generally used to enhance the flavoring of desserts. Vanilla is quite expensive, nonetheless also efficient. Vanilla is made from vanilla beans,the beans are soaked in the mixture of ethyl alcohol and water. It not only compliments the flavor of food but is also healthy; it can be used to reduce cholesterol. In this article, we’ll discuss all the things about vanilla and why it is expensive.

Types Of Vanilla


In this segment, we’ll discuss different types of vanilla available in the market. You should be well aware of the types of vanilla for you to buy.

  1. Madagascar

    It is obvious by the name that the madagascar vanilla is produced in madagascar. It is the best vanilla. The vanilla beans are dark brown in colour and have a smooth texture to it. The taste of madagascar vanilla is quite unique because of its rich flavors. It is creamy, sweet and buttery; extracted from vanilla beans directly. The madagascar vanilla is also considered the best type of vanilla due to its rich taste and consistency.

  2. Mexican Vanilla

    Mexican vanilla is one of its kind, made in mexico. It is originally made from tonka tree extracts. The tonka tree is a type of pea plant, and the beans from the tree are further used in making Mexican vanilla. There are good and bad quality Mexican vanilla available on the web. While the good ones can last for upto ten years, the bad ones won’t make it for more than two years. Mexican vanilla is the purest vanilla that one can have.

  3. Tahitian

    The process of making or extracting the tahitian vanilla is totally different from the rest. It is made through the fermentation process. It needs to be hand fertilized and then consists of the fermentation process for nine months. The tahitian vanilla has an intoxicating aroma and an exotic taste that will surely excite you. It has a sweet and a bit spicy flavor, often used in sweet and savory dishes.

  4. Ugandan

    Ugandan vanilla is produced in Uganda situated in africa. It is the most fresh vanilla that is harvested in dry seasons. The uganda vanilla has a strong and creamy flavor, often used in sweet dishes like ice cream and brownies. They have the aroma of chocolate, figs and raisins, combined in one. These are produced in large quantities in Uganda.


Why Is Vanilla Extract So Expensive?

Vanilla is one of the most liked and also the best flavor for many desserts. But it is also more expensive than other flavorings available out there. Ever wondered why? We’re here to answer. Vanilla extract is expensive because there are not enough crop yields for vanilla and the extreme weather conditions that affect the growth of vanilla. Vanilla crops are facing reduction in their growth and so it is way more expensive. The theft of vanilla, not enough growth, weather conditions affect the vanilla crops in a bad way. Thus, resulting in the hike in the price of vanilla.

Let’s know in detail the problems that result in the expensive vanilla:

  • Centralization Of Vanilla Bean Growth

    You may not know, but up to 80 percent of the vanilla is produced in madagascar. Madagascar is the largest supplier of vanilla across the world. Vanilla is also the main source of income for the people of madagascar. 

    So, the vanilla production is centralized which is also one of the reasons why vanilla is so expensive. The change in weather conditions, climate or any difficulty in vanilla growth will largely affect the production and export of vanilla hence, making it expensive.

  • Labor-intensive And Lengthy Growing Process

    The production of vanilla is a long process; it is to be planted, cultivated, harvested by hands. It can’t be grown with machines, and that’s where the need for laborers arises. The laborers do the plantation, cultivation and harvesting of vanilla slowly and patiently. Growing vanilla is a slow process that takes around four years to complete. Moreover, the vanilla must be pollinated by hands to grow perfectly.

    So it is labor-intensive and a lengthy process that requires time and hardwork. Thus, vanilla is expensive.

  • Historical Supply And Demand Fluctuations

    Although the vanilla flavorings and imitating vanilla give almost the same flavor and taste, they can’t compete with real vanilla. Some of the big companies started an “all-natural” campaign which affected the production and demand of vanilla.

    Vanilla is not usually produced in very large quantities. Due to this campaign/ trend, people refused to buy artificial vanilla and the demand for real vanilla peaked all of a sudden. The demand was comparatively much more than previous years. The production is less and demand is at its peak due to which vanilla is so expensive.

  • Theft

    Theft of vanilla is a serious issue. Due to the increasing demand and less production, the vanilla crops are at a high risk of getting stolen. The farmers grow vanilla patiently with hardwork and once produced, they’re stolen, resulting in wasting time and work. 

    Serious measures should be taken regarding the theft of vanilla. Theft means reduction in growth of vanilla. Hence, making the vanilla expensive.

  • Climate Challenges

    Climate change is yet another factor that results in the price hike of vanilla. Vanilla crops require specific weather and climate conditions to grow properly or else they go waste and low quality vanilla is produced. Madagascar, the place where 80 percent of the world’s vanilla grows, is hugely impacted by this. The storms and cyclones at that place every year destroy the vanilla crops completely and production is affected.

This has resulted in the increase in price of vanilla over the past years.

Is Real Vanilla Worth The Price?

This depends on your viewpoint of seeing things. Although vanilla is quite expensive, nothing can replace it. Real vanilla is extracted from vanilla beans and it’s an intriguing process. While real vanilla is the best, you can always use vanilla flavorings available in the market instead of the real ones. They may not be healthy but they provide pretty much the same flavor to the food.

Vanilla flavorings are also preferred because they are available at cheap rates. The making process of real vanilla and vanilla flavorings/ imitating vanilla are totally different but they are all the same in taste. So, it’s up to you whether you want to use real vanilla or other alternatives. Summing up, real vanilla is totally worth the price as it is not only healthy but also adds a unique flavoring to your food giving it a warm and sweet taste.


Why Is Vanilla Extract So Expensive?

Vanilla extract is expensive because of the less production and increase in demand over the past years. Most of the world’s vanilla is produced and supplied from madagascar, which faces extreme climate conditions resulting in the destruction of crops. There are also other reasons for the price hike of vanilla like the lengthy process, centralized production and theft.

People want to buy the pure and real vanilla, which is why vanilla is in so much demand. It is used in almost every sweet dish, which is also why it doesn’t come cheap. It needs to be planted, cultivated, pollinated, harvested and extracted by hands, which needs labor. You can also use alternatives like vanilla flavoring or imitating vanilla for the flavor. This is why vanilla is so expensive.

What Is Artificial Vanilla Made Of?

Since real vanilla is expensive and is not largely produced, many people use artificial vanilla instead of it. It comes cheap and is a perfect alternative for real vanilla. Artificial vanilla is made from a chemical known as synthetic vanillin.

It is the same chemical found in real vanilla. The difference is just that in real vanilla, the chemical is formed naturally. Whereas, for artificial vanilla, it needs to be prepared in labs. It provides the same taste and flavor as real vanilla.

How Is Pure Vanilla Extract Made?

Pure vanilla extract is made from vanilla beans that are grown in farms. The crop is planted, cultivated, harvested and pollinated through hands by farmers for years. After a period of 3-4 years when the beans are ready to be used, then the vanilla extract is made. The pure vanilla extract is made when vanilla beans are soaked in a mixture of ethyl alcohol and water.

Is Vanilla A Fruit?

Yes, Vanilla is a fruit of an orchid plant family. It is a flowering plant.Vanilla is also considered as spice sometimes.Vanilla grows as a pod and is long, it is grown as a bean. These beans are used for making vanilla extracts. The beans are different in terms of flavor, taste and aroma, also why they’re widely liked among folks.

How Long Does Vanilla Take To Grow?

After pollination, the bean will require 9 months to be completed and mature. Growing vanilla is a lengthy process and requires patience. Farmers dedicate around 3-4 years to fully grow the vanilla. During this period, the vanilla is planted, cultivated, harvested and pollinated after which the final beans are produced that are further used in making vanilla extract.

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Evelyn Brown

Evelyn Brown is a housewife and spends most of the time at home taking care of her infant son. The time that she has left after cleaning the house and taking care of the son and the daddy is dedicated to making her mark on the internet. She loves to write about the kitchen appliances that she uses in her daily life. She also likes to spend quality time with her husband and drink aged wine and scotch.

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