Why Madagascar Vanilla Beans are Considered the Best in The World

Shawn Gavin January 31, 2021

Madagascar- the gold standard for vanilla beans around the world

Vanilla from Madagascar, high in vanillin content, used in almost every commercial kitchen the world over, is often considered the very best of all vanilla beans. Though many users ask why is this so? Is Madagascar vanilla really better than all other vanilla beans? Do the Malagasy farmers who meticulously maintain these vanilla orchids, possess some magical powers? Is the island of Madagascar home to the most fertile vanilla soil? Read on and we will do our best to answer these questions and more.

Is the Madagascar vanilla bean really the best?

Depends on who you ask. In some aspects vanilla from this Indian ocean island can be considered the best due to a number of reasons.

  • Madagascar vanilla beans are consistently ranked as the best vanilla beans due to overall consistency of the vanilla beans that are produced.  Although the story of Bourbon vanilla did not actually begin in Madagascar ( the term Bourbon vanilla actually comes from a neighboring island to Madagascar) the term is now mostly associated with the vanilla species Vanilla Planifolia that grows in Comoros, Madagascar, Tanzania, Uganda and more to name a few.
  • High levels of green vanilla crop output compared to the rest of the world. Madagascar grows and produces upwards of 80 percent of the worlds supply of vanilla beans. This somewhat sheer monopoly on vanilla is made up of both large vanilla houses and small operation shareholders consisting of both co-ops and individual preparers and families of preparers. 
  • An economy driven by vanilla produces highly competitive and competent  preparers. World prices swing up and down with vanilla as many of us have seen in the past five years. This is closely interrelated to micro economic factors in vanilla growing regions. By holding an 80 percent margin on the market you can surely bet that others simply follow Madagascars lead.
  • It really is great vanilla for making vanilla extract. Madagascar vanilla beans make great vanilla extract, there really is no denying that.  The beans produce a rich, aromatic and familiar vanilla profile that users expect of vanilla and have come to love for use in recipes such as creme burlee, vanilla ice cream and even Coca cola to name a few. 

Madagascar vanilla beans are well marketed

Having a market cap ratio of 80 percent can do wonders for many things but as the case with vanilla, it is the only vanilla flavor that many users have come to know. By no means are we arguing against supporting Madagascar vanilla. We are just stating some facts for you to know and decide for yourself.  We believe there are many great vanilla producing countries; some of our personal favorites are vanilla from Tahiti, Bourbon vanilla from Uganda, and Papua New Guinea vanilla beans which are one of the only countries producing both vanilla tahitensis and vanilla planifolia. 

So is buying Madagascar vanilla beans still supporting small farmers?

Absolutely, buying vanilla from Madagascar is still supporting small farms, families and stakeholders but like anything else this depends on where you are buying. Slofoodgroup purchases vanilla beans directly from farmers and small stakeholder paying cash directly to the families we have worked with for many years.  We see differences in their lives by making direct investments in the people of these communities as well as investments to grow our own business proportionally and responsibly.  

No Madagascar farmers do not possess some magical powers 

The land and climate is well suited for growing vanilla vines. The Malagasy people who grow and prepare vanilla do possess incredible by spirt, proficiency and pride in the practice. Some may call this magic, we call it a great heart that gives the world its favorite flavor. It is worth supporting vanilla no matter what country your vanilla comes from but if you are looking for vanilla from Madagascar, you can find that here, along with some of our other great vanilla beans. 


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