Natural vanilla: a finite resource susceptible to black swans
The future challenge of supplying enough natural sources of the world’s most popular flavor once again became painfully clear in early 2017. With the lion’s share of the product still sourced from Madagascar, the industry must spread its bets in order to ensure future supply. In early 2017, a devastating cyclone wiped out significant volumes of vanilla crops on the island nation, leaving the valuable commodity in crisis and leading to increased prices of vanilla. In the summer, Firmenich, together with Danone, Mars, Prova and some NGO’s invested in a large-scale vanilla farming project to benefit Madagascan farmers. The impact of Hurricane Irma on Florida’s citrus crop turned out to be much less dramatic than initially envisioned, however.