Vanilla crisis affects ice cream prices

While vanilla ice cream is usually seen as quite ubiquitous and middle-of-the-road, it's set to become a high-end commodity in the world of ice cream, thanks to a steep rise in the cost of vanilla.

Black vanilla - known as such because of the colour of the dried pods harvested from orchids – is only grown in a few countries, including Madagascar (the main producer), Indonesia, India and Mexico, making prices of the spice susceptible to poor harvests.

Industry reports suggest that canny buyers have already begun stockpiling the sweet essence, pushing prices up by 20 per cent in just two months – a rise that could have an impact on ice cream prices come summertime, particularly with the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics just around the corner.

Home-bakers should also take note: a dash of vanilla essence is often called for in sponge sandwich and cupcake recipes - however, don't tell anyone but we have heard that brandy can make a viable alternative. Every cloud and all that.

What do you think? Does vanilla top your list of favourite ice cream flavours? Tell us your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments box below...

Picture credit: Rex