Essential Oils Blog

Vanilla, Vanilla, Where Art Thou? The Story Behind the Vanilla Bean Shortage

The worldwide vanilla shortage has caused many companies like Plant Therapy to seek solutions.

Once upon a time in a beautiful land a strange and sad happening occurred. There was a dark cloud that came over the land and suddenly, there was a great shortage of Vanilla CO2! There was wailing and gnashing of teeth as people wanted to make DIYs, and to diffuse this beautiful, calming product,  and to include its delectable sweetness in blends.

People ran to Plant Therapy, knowing that if anyone would have it, they would! But alas, they too were unable to obtain it.

Where has all the vanilla gone? 

Vanilla is from an orchid plant and is grown in Madagascar. This country has roughly 79% of the world’s vanilla fields. Due to the shortage, the price of vanilla per pound has gone up from $11 per pound in 2011, to $193 per pound in 2016. This very labor-intensive crop takes 3-4 years from the time vanilla is planted until they can harvest. Then, it can take an additional 3-6 months to cure the beans. There are only approximately 3,000 tons of vanilla produced each year. Due to challenges in nature, vanilla in short supply — such as drought and cyclones. [1] [2]

Bottom line? 

Vanilla, of course, is in big demand for food products. It’s also a main ingredient in skincare products and perfume.  However, due to the short supply, companies are having to find substitutions or discontinue production.

Likewise, at Plant Therapy, we have felt the effects of this vanilla shortage and have had to make adjustments. We currently cannot offer Vanilla CO2 sold individually. We do have Vanilla Oleoresin, and a few blends with vanilla.

Peru Balsam to the rescue!

Peru Balsam does have a scent very similar to vanilla.  Like vanilla, it can be calming and comforting. It can ease nervous tension and promote tranquility.  It creates that “homey” atmosphere and is complementary to many other essential oils. We have used this in holiday blends as a substitute for vanilla in synergies that are not KidSafe. Caution is needed, as Peru Balsam can be irritating to the skin if used above recommended amounts. So, please follow instructions on label or website.  

We are always looking to provide essential oils and other products that our customers find helpful, pleasing, and affordable. We also strive to be a transparent company, and we hope this will shed light on the background challenges that we face, and our quest to serve our customers in the best way possible. 

 

Sources:

[1] cbnews, 2017, Vanilla Bean Shortage in Madagascar drives up prices in the U.S.  CBS This Morning.   https://www.cbsnews.com/news/vanilla-bean-shortage-madagascar-drives-up-us-prices/

[2] Fieldhouse, Crystal, Ecology Skincare,  2017, What the Worldwide Vanilla Shortage means for Ecology Skincare. https://ecologyskincare.com/worldwide-vanilla-shortage-means-ecology-skincare/

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