With vanilla you never have a dull moment.
This time an explanation in detail about what is happening in MDG.
While the prices for black gourmet are around $210,- up to $235,-/kg, for red beans the price is even higher. On the other hand there seem to be enough green beans in vacuum bags with the collectors that still have to be cured.
The collectors are sitting on big money coming from another trade, let’s call it as it is, rosewood. The power is now definitely with the collectors and their vacuum machines. In the past, the collector had to sell their product the same day of the harvest. Today they can store their product much longer due to the vacuum packaging and are able to wait for the right moment to sell.
The green beans in vacuum with 60% moisture, are not the right basis for a top quality end product. These beans are picked mature (or immature!), cooked (63 degrees °C), sweated for 3 days and packed under vacuum. The collectors sell these green beans to curers/exporters. These curers will proceed with the curing process and are also experimenting with faster methods. Fast curing methods of machine cut beans are sold as extraction quality only.
The traditional curing methods are still there for the gourmet beans. In my opinion there is no other way to obtain right moisture and high vanillin beans.
Due to quality problems caused by ‘the new way of working’, bad infrastructure in the country and price speculation a new initiative has been born: Platform National Vanille. Farmers, collectors, exporters and the Government are represented. Certainly a very good development but will they change the situation? To face the truth. A small group of powerful exporters are dominating the market and are targeting at short term results.
The 2016 crop is expected to be around 1600 tons with a price level, for black gourmet, between $210,- and $230,-/kg. For the coming months the price is to be expected to increase rather than to decrease. The ‘arrogant’ attitude of the collectors nowadays tells us enough: ‘You may buy today, if not no problem to us, you will regret it in some months’.
But pride comes before the fall. Vanilla initiatives in other countries (India, Uganda, Indonesia) are developing rapidly.
The advice of September 2015 has not changed: buy small quantities.
Madagascar, 26 February, 2016
Henk de Kroon