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Chart of the week: vanilla is more valuable than silver

Vanilla is one of the world’s most popular flavours, but a dear one. As this chart shows, a supply squeeze over the past few years has propelled prices to record highs, even overtaking silver.

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Vanilla is one of the world's most popular flavours, but a dear one: a supply squeeze over the past few years has propelled prices to record highs. Five years ago, the price of 1kg of vanilla was $20. In 2018, it briefly became more expensive than silver, reaching a peak of $600 a kilo, before falling back. Most of the world's natural vanilla comes from Madagascar, so events on the island affect the global industry.

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In March 2017, Cyclone Enawo struck the island and destroyed much of the year's vanilla pod crop. Two of the largest vanilla-producing regions were affected. Because it takes three to four years for a new plant to bear vanilla pods, farmers have been struggling to meet demand ever since. No wonder prices have risen so sharply.

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