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Description: Madagascar dominates the trade accounting for approximately 75% of the world's production. With an annual output between 1,000-1,200 metric tons. Most of the highest quality or Prime beans comes from this island nation. Indonesia is also an important market force but typically the beans grown there are not as prized. The United States is the largest importer although Europe is also a market, especially for the gourmet quality beans. The traditional method of packing vanilla beans was placing the loose beans in rectangular tins with sealed or loose fitting lids and then inside corrugated cartons. However, today most shippers have gone to packing the beans in the corrugated cartons with the beans bulk loaded inside a plastic lining. In some instances, the cartons are lined with a Kraft-type brown paper or wax coated version. The weight of the cartons varies significantly and can range from 16 to 60 pounds. This is due to the moisture content of the bean. The higher quality product has elevated levels of moisture while the inferior beans are dried extensively. Cartons are floor loaded into 20-foot standard ocean containers. Usually a container can accommodate 450-500 cartons. Most of the vanilla beans travel via ocean with the deciding factors being size of the shipment and the price of both the vanilla beans and the freight. As the price of the beans increase, its relationship to the more costly air freight charges is more favorable. In times of price normalcy, ocean carriage is the mode of choice. The main concern for loss/damage is mold development from moisture contact. The beans have their own inherent moisture, anywhere between 8 and 30 percent with the higher-grade varieties running at about 22%. Therefore, they are susceptible to condensation caused by temperature changes. There is also the possibility that the green beans were not properly dried and cured. Ocean transport between Madagascar or Indonesia to importers in North America and Europe can translate into 6 weeks on the water. The better quality beans do contain higher amounts of vanillin (around 2 percent is good) making them much more resistant to mold growth.
Index: 751
Commodity Name: VANILLA

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