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

Vanilla price reaches record high after Madagascar cyclone - Financial Times
24-Apr-2017 17:02
Vanilla prices are giving scoop shops a giant ice-cream headache ... - The Boston Globe
01-May-2017 13:02
Effects Now Being Felt After Cyclone Destroys Madagascar Vanilla Farms - PerishableNews (press release) (registration)
02-May-2017 23:37
Firmenich weathers the vanilla supply storm with diversified sourcing -
23-May-2017 14:38
The Vanilla Bean Bakery & Espresso Bar opens in Carle Place - Newsday
20-May-2017 13:57
Ben & Jerry's remains chill over high-priced vanilla -
03-May-2017 21:19
Trademark Woes Aside, Weathered Souls is Gaining Ground - San Antonio Current
23-May-2017 11:56
Snoqualmie Ice Cream Kicks Off Ice Cream Season with 10 New ... - Benzinga
23-May-2017 11:15
Vanilla crop loss in Madagascar may lead to soaring ice cream prices - Xinhua
02-May-2017 07:53
'I have one grasshopper but I will break it in half and give you half': A resilient country – Madagascar - Cabrini College Loquitur
04-May-2017 15:19

Further information