The 2021 green vanilla campaign opened in Madagascar on 20th May in Ambanja, northwest of the island. The bulk of the Madagascan vanilla is cultivated in the Sava region where the new season is to open in July, however, the significance of the early harvest in Ambanja is that it provides the market with indications for the upcoming season, in terms of potential market dynamics and prices.
This year, farmers in Ambanja were heard opening the new campaign with offers of around Ar 200,000 per 1 kilogram of green vanilla. This was met by bids of Ar 20,000/kg from collectors, with both parties eventually settling for a government-recommended price of Ar 75,000/kg.
Expectations for this year’s harvest were initially high, given the strong flowering in autumn last year. Flowering peaked in Madagascar between 29th October and 19th November 2020. However, unlike during the 2020/21 campaign where the southern growing areas (Maroantsetra and Mananara) were low on flowers and Sava very active, for this year’s crop, both regions (north and south) experienced an intense bloom during a single long-lasting peak, according to Michel Manceau, director at Demeter Sarl, a soft commodities consultancy firm.
According to Demeter’s field survey, the number of flowers pollinated for this year’s harvest increased significantly from 2019, with strong flowering observed in basin Andapa, Cap Est, Axe Ampanefene and Axe Andapa.
However, hopes of an exceptional 2021 harvest have been hampered by dry weather conditions since the start of the year, causing some vines to dry and beans to fall off the vines.
Madagascar is estimated to have produced approximately 2,000 tonnes of vanilla last year, according to Mintec research, an annual increase of 43% y-o-y. The 2020 crop benefitted from new vanilla plants reaching full maturity and farmers allowing beans to ripen on vines for longer, due to weak demand across the vanilla supply chain amid previously sky-rocketing market prices. In June 2017, The Mintec Benchmark Prices of Madagascan vanilla (industrial grade 1) peaked at USD 595/kg, up from USD 21/kg in 2012. Presently, the vanilla export price is government-regulated at a minimum of USD 250/kg FOB Madagascar. Discussions on the new 2021/22 export price are ongoing, with the Malagasy authorities expected to notify the vanilla industry in due course.