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Vanilla Shortage Challenges Local Ice Cream Shop

  • Hartzell's Ice Cream shop in Bloomington has been dealing with a global shortage in vanilla bean production.

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    Photo: Tyler Lake

    The outside of Hartzell's Ice Cream Shop in Bloomington, Indiana

  • Hartzell's had to change some if its offerings as a result of the vanilla bean shortage.

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    Photo: Tyler Lake

    A sign hangs in Hartzell's Ice Cream shop telling customers about changes in offerings due to a vanilla bean shortage.

  • A global shortage on vanilla beans is affecting ice cream shops all over the state of Indiana.

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    Photo: Tyler Lake

    Hartzell's Ice Cream shop sign for vanilla ice cream.

One of the most classic ice cream flavors is becoming much more expensive and it’s impacting business owners.

The price of vanilla beans has skyrocketed over the past several years. In 2011 a pound of vanilla bean extract cost roughly eleven dollars, now that same amount costs nearly 200 dollars.

The increase is a result of higher demand, as well as a devastating hurricane that hit Madagascar, which produces more than half of the world’s vanilla supply.

The dramatic price hike is negatively affecting local businesses. Hilary Martel co-owns the Bloomington ice cream shop Hartzell’s. She says the business has had to adapt.

“We’ve had to limit any bulk sales as well as sales of milkshakes, because milkshakes have a large amount of ice cream in them,” Martel says. “So we are trying to ration it.”

Martel says she hopes a productive 2017 crop will eventually lower prices, but worries the vanilla bean’s three-year growth cycle might mean a long while before prices drop.

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