Why vanilla bean expensive?

One reason vanilla has gotten so expensive is, it’s hard to grow. Vanilla vines take two to four years to fully mature, and their flowers only bloom for one day of the year. In order for the plants to produce beans, they have to be pollinated that day.

Another frequent inquiry is “Who benefits from high prices of vanilla beans?”.

One way to consider this is the companies in industrialized countries that depend on vanilla beans or extract either to sell or to use in manufacturing, will pay whatever they must to keep their businesses going. The farmers may or may not benefit much from the higher prices.

To increase their margins, middlemen and those who invest in vanilla beans in vanilla producing countries, hold the beans off the market to force prices up. The lowest level of middlemen are those who drive trucks into the bush to collect the beans and who start the vanilla curing and drying process.

In 2008 the price of vanilla beans was about $12.00 per pound. At the end of 2016, the price rose to $170.00. Since about 80% of the world’s vanilla fields are in Madagascar, the price of vanilla beans soared even higher.

Why is vanilla so expensive?

Since growing vanilla beans is so labor-intensive, it is the second most expensive spice after saffron. For more information on Vanilla, please read our blog, “Vanilla Essential Oil?

The vanilla pod (shown in front) is difficult to grow and harvest, which is why most vanilla (for instance used in ice cream) is artificial.

Can you grow vanilla beans from orchids?

While there are 100+ varieties of orchids, only one, the vanilla planifolia, grows vanilla beans,” says Jessica Formicola, owner at Savory Experiments in an email interview. “Orchids are finicky plants and hard to keep alive. Orchid flowers are hand-pollinated during a short flowering period,” she adds.