Arm wrestling for Madagascan vanilla
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Since the start of the new campaign in mid-November, Madagascar has exported almost ten times less vanilla than the same year last year. The Big Island isn’t short on pods, it’s the buyers that are missing.
Vanilla collects with the producers as well as with the middlemen, also called collectors. This situation can be explained by the slowdown in exports: 150 tons were exported compared to more than 1,000 last year. Unheard of at this stage of the campaign. ” This is the minimum service summarizes one producer.
When Big Island has trouble selling its vanilla, it’s because buyers are reluctant to pay the price set by the authorities: $250 a kilo. A price that is significantly higher than that of other producer countries, a price that should enable fair remuneration at all stages of the value chain.
Official prices not respected
In Madagascar, this official price has been in effect for two seasons, but due to a lack of sufficient control, more than half of the pods, 80% according to some sources, would have been sold at a lower price, an exporter assures. Another industry player, through financial sleight of hand, confirms prices around $180 per kilo. The rivers have therefore not been affected by the implementation of the new rules so far, as they have largely been bypassed.
But this summer, exporters and importers signed a pledge to comply with the legislation. On paper, the agreements that led to retrocessions are clearly no longer accepted. The authorities have also decided to be more vigilant. Result: Orders have dropped, especially from Americans who buy 70% Madagascar vanilla.
Exporters pay attention to the inventories of importers
Each side seems to be playing for time and hoping the other will fold. “ Customers reach into their inventory and put us under tremendous pressure ‘ explains one exporter. The government is not backing down, even if the situation is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain in view of runaway inflation. Buyers’ inventories should melt by March, an argument not to back down, explains a local expert who hopes importers will start buying again soon. At its meeting yesterday, the National Vanilla Council recommended sending a mission to the United States to clear up misunderstandings.
Too long a lockdown could divert some importers to Ugandan vanilla, which has an aromatic profile similar to the Malagasy pod. But also, and above all, artificial vanilla, which already accounts for 99% of the vanilla consumed worldwide.