Investment in Tonga’s vanilla reaps benefit from Madagascan vanilla disaster

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 13th April 2016

drying-114135_960_720The Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific Polynesian islands may benefit hugely from an increased demand for vanilla beans.

Food manufacturers have been paying increasing amounts for vanilla over the past 12 months with costs particularly spiking in the last 12 weeks due to poor crop performance in Madagascar. Madagascar is the world’s largest producer of vanilla beans.

The recent Madagascan vanilla bean farming problems have seen global food manufacturers paying nearly 150 per cent more for vanilla than they did 12 months prior.

Madagascar’s loss could however be Tonga’s win with Polynesian plantations performing well.

The majority of employment in Tonga is reliant on agriculture and forestry with vanilla beans as one of its major crops. In 2013 it was listed as the 7th largest producer of vanilla in the world by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. In 2013, Tonga produced 198 tonnes of vanilla bean.

Many countries already source vanilla from Tonga. One of Australia’s leading manufacturers of food essences, Queen, made a significant investment in the Tongan vanilla industry in 2013, and is now reaping the benefits.

New Zealand’s Heilala Vanilla is also sourced from Tonga.