Vanilla beans on a green stone. (Photo by: Paolo Picciotto/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Food - Drink
Most Of The World's Vanilla Comes From This Country
Vanilla, scientifically known as genus vanilla, is a tropical climbing orchid plant whose fruits — or “beans” — are used as a source of the vanilla flavor we use in sweet treats. Most of the world's vanilla actually comes from a country more than 10,000 miles away from the plant's birthplace of Central America.
Madagascar is the world’s largest producer of vanilla, and the island’s environment is perfectly suited for growing the plant, with two dry seasons per year that allow for double the propagation, since the plant needs a dry season to be pollinated. In 2020 alone, Madagascar supplied the world with around 3,000 tonnes of vanilla.
While there are more than 110 different species of orchids worldwide, vanilla is the only one that grows edible fruits, and it thrives best in locations near the ocean, where conditions are humid but not overtly hot. Mexico used to supply the Americas with vanilla, but now produces far less of this spice, leaving Madagascar in charge.