When asked their favourite ice cream flavour, few people would say vanilla – but now that we’ve found out the UK has a shortage of the stuff, we’re suddenly aware of how much we love it.
The perfect accompaniment to apple crumble, treacle tart and, um, more exciting ice cream flavours, vanilla is a mainstay in many household freezers.
The nation’s favourite flavour is already out of stock for the foreseeable future in some of the capital’s gelato stores, with one shop in Chiswick, West London, posting a sign telling customers that an “unprecedented” vanilla pod shortage was to blame.
It’s due to poor harvests earlier this year in Madagascar, which caused the price of vanilla pods to soar by up to 500 per cent.
A hefty cyclone, named Enwao, hit the country – where 80 per cent of the world’s vanilla is produced – in March and destroyed a substantial part of the island’s vanilla plantations, which reduced production rates by 30 per cent.
Mamy Razakarivony, president of the national vanilla exporters’ group, described this as a ‘catastrophic season’ in an interview with Reuters, and it seems this has now impacted the UK, with ice cream chains putting signs in their windows saying the classic ice cream is out of stock.
According to the Evening Standard, Odonno’s in Chiswick informed customers that an ‘unprecedented’ shortage of vanilla pods meant that vanilla ice cream would not be on the menu.
We hope we can resume offering vanilla ice cream as soon as the new 2017 vanilla crop becomes available said the owners.
Unsurprisingly, this is already having a huge impact on British retailers, particularly smaller outlets with lower resources for whom the price has become too much to grapple with.
Vanilla has been the most popular ice cream flavour in the UK for decades, according to the Ice Cream Alliance, but it looks like the shortage will have us reaching for riskier alternatives that many cutting-edge gelato shops now offer, think basil, olive oil and beetroot.