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Rising vanilla prices impact local ice cream shops and bakeries

What’s better than ice cream on a hot summer day?

“so good. Soooo good.”

Not much.

As for flavors?

“Chocolate lovers peanut butter.”

Sweet deal, huh

Well a local ice cream shop is paying the price so you don’t have to.

“2015 it started to increase a little more, a little more, until 2018, which is the highest I’ve ever seen it,” said Brent Lebouitz, owner of Sweet Willows Creamery in York Township, York County.

Prices of vanilla are now as high $515 per gallon.

The spike in price is happening for a multitude of reasons, only made worse by a pair of cyclones in Madagascar, where 80 percent of the world’s crop is produced.

That’s a lot of money, especially when you go through a gallon every 15 batches of ice cream.

“It’s been a challenge because of all the flavors I need it for, but I can’t really increase the price of my ice cream just because of vanilla, unfortunately,” said Lebouitz.

Not wanting to increase prices for his customers, he’s shelling out the dough.

And speaking of dough…

“We can use as little as maybe four cups of vanilla when we’re making a batch of icing, or two batches, or we can use as much as a half a gallon if we’re baking a lot of cakes or cupcakes,” said Darmayne Robertson, owner of Sweet Confections Cakes in Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County.

The skyrocketing price is being felt by local bakeries, too.

“We use it in all of our cake flavors. No matter what the flavor is, we add vanilla to it,” said Robertson.

Both shop owners say they have been able to avoid serious price hikes by purchasing vanilla in bulk, and they are hoping this is only temporary.

“Like I said, it’s got to drop. It has to. And when it does, you’ve just got to ride the roller coaster,” said Lebouitz.

Some ice cream and bake shops have turned to artificial vanilla, called vanillan.

It is much cheaper, but both shop owners say you can taste the difference.