Madagascar Vanilla

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The vanilla orchid is native only to Mexico and relies on a rare black Mexican bee to pollinate naturally. In 1841, a French owned 12-year old slave on Île Bourbon (now Réunion Island) discovered how to hand-pollinate vanilla orchids. Shortly thereafter vanilla plantations were introduced and became commonplace on the island of Madagascar.

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The type of vanilla grown on Madagascar and in most other locations is Vanilla planifolia, also known as Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla. About 97% of the world's real vanilla comes from Madagascar. However, an estimated 95% of all vanilla products contains artificial vanilla. The best quality Bourbon Vanilla, also called Black Vanilla, is produced primarily around Antalaha, Sambava, Vohemar and Andapa in the northwest of Madagascar.

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In ancient times, vanilla was said to have aphrodisiac effects and help against fever. Although these properties remain scientifically unverified, it is known that vanilla increases levels of catecholamines, including epinephrine, more commonly known as adrenaline. In an in-vitro test, vanilla was able to block quorom sensing in bacteria. In many bacteria, quorum sensing signals function as a switch for virulence in that microbes only become virulent when these signals indicate that they have the numbers to resist the host immune system response. The essential oils of vanilla and vanillin are often used in aromatherapy.

Documentary on Madagascar's vanilla trade

Madagascar: The Chinese vanilla is a half-hour documentary that gives insight into Madagascar's vanilla production and how the trade is being shaped since recent years by an increase in demand from China.

The original French language version, MADAGASCAR Vanille Chinoise, produced in 2014 by WA Productions in cooperation with Public Sénat, can be viewed at

Google Newsfeed

Eager Bakers May Face A Cake Crisis As Vanilla Supply Evaporates - PerishableNews (press release) (registration)
23-Sep-2017 07:30
In March, Cyclone Enawo wreaked havoc on Madagascar. Now global vanilla prices have - Quartz
29-Aug-2017 13:02
Wild times as Madagascar rides vanilla price bubble - African Independent
27-Aug-2017 04:04
Vanilla prices soar in Madagascar - euronews
24-Aug-2017 10:19
Vanilla update: Mother Nature, man foment price volatility - Candy Industry
30-Aug-2017 19:32
Bask in the events, special brews of Buffalo Beer Week - Buffalo News
19-Sep-2017 13:43
Honey, I'm home: Athens' newest business specializes in all things honeybee - Red and Black
21-Sep-2017 13:33
IMF Staff Completes Mission to Review Progress of Madagascar's Economic Program - International Monetary Fund
21-Sep-2017 17:26
A three-year-long competition discovered the world's best gelato in a tiny town in Italy - INSIDER
18-Sep-2017 17:30
Madagascar: No end in sight as vanilla prices head higher still - Africa Times
17-Sep-2017 21:12

Further information