The quality of the vanilla from Madagascar is declining for several years. This is due to two main phenomena: often too early picking which generates immature pods with low vanillin content, and vacuum packing of vanilla while beans are not properly dried.
Vacuum packing early vanilla beans strongly impacts the cost price. Last year it was necessary to buy 2 kilos of vanilla to obtain 1kilo of good and stable quality. In addition to higher cost, the quality declines since vacuum packed vanilla do not allow the aromatic development. Many people bought moldy vanilla batches, as the beans were insufficiently dried. Customers are fed up with those issues, and the market for Malagasy vanilla is losing credibility.
Aware of the lack of sustainability in the vanilla market, the Malagasy government decided to intervene and to rely on the “Vanilla platform”, intermediary between the state and the vanilla industry.
The “Vanilla platform” gathers exporters representing nearly 90% of Madagascar vanilla production. All these companies have export accreditation, are recorded in the Trade Register, are tax registered and comply with social and hygiene norms.
The aims of the platform are multiple:
- To define the appropriate dates for the start of the campaign.
- To find solutions to cope against theft of vanilla beans from the vines that incite growers to pick their productions too early.
- To ban vacuum-packing of immature products in rural areas.
Various meeting between this platform, the State, importers and aromatic and food industry customers, have resulted in the strengthening of Ministerial Order No. 35255/2013 of 6 December 2013. Now, since March 2016, any circulation of green vanilla before the official opening of the campaign, as well as the use of vacuum bag from the producer to the exporter is strictly prohibited.
Further this new decree, some green vanilla was seized and burnt, but this is not enough to arrest offenders who spend above the law or are engaged in corruption.
The decree being published in March, three months before the opening date of the 2016 campaign, we do not have enough perspective to say whether the measures are properly implemented or not. Let’s be positive, and wait to see how the government will act for the 2017 campaign.