EAST Lancashire ice cream manufacturers and sellers have been threatened with spiralling costs due to a worldwide shortage of vanilla pods.

But despite the increasing prices ice cream producers in the area have vowed to absorb the costs so customers do not have to foot the bill.

Huntley’s farm in Samlesbury produces Moo2You ice cream.

Owner Eddie Cowpe said: “We are one of a few manufacturers in the area that use vanilla pods in ice cream.

“A lot of companies who make ice cream use vanilla essence because it is cheaper.

“But we make a premium product, where the vanilla ice cream taste comes from the vanilla pods.

“As yet we have had no official notification that there will be a price increase.”

Globally poor harvest and businesses stockpiling supplies are said to be causing the shortage of vanilla pods.

Vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world after saffron and is grown in Madagascar, Indonesia, India and Mexico,.

Wholesale prices are said to have shot up by 20 per cent in the last two months alone from just over £15 a kilo to around £21 to £25 a kilo.

Eric Dowson, a partner at Mrs Dowsons Ice Cream, Clayton-le-Dale,said: “At the moment there has been no impact because it takes quite a lot of time to go through the market.

“Vanilla ice cream and good quality chocolate ice cream also uses vanilla.

“But certainly as things are going there will be an effect which may force prices up in the future.

“But the biggest impact may be on Coca Cola which is the number one purchaser of vanilla in the world.”

Ice cream sellers Rippleheads Ices, Blackburn, owner Catherine Elliott, said that pushing up prices would be a ‘last resort’.

She said; “We would offer vanilla ice cream but we would push the sales of other flavours.

“Pushing up prices is a last resort as we pride ourselves on value for money.”

Mr Cowpe added: “We make 1,000 litres of vanilla ice cream a week and that uses an awful lot of vanilla pods.

“To make nine litres we use 300mm of pure vanilla.

“A price rise would cause a problem as we are setting the prices for the summer with our wholesalers.

“But overall the cost of everything is going up all of the time.

“But we will absorb the cost if the price of vanilla goes up.

“If it goes up to silly prices and becomes very expensive it will not be easy and may consider putting prices up but that wouldn’t be until at least next year.”

As well as ice cream, all products such as sweets, cakes, soft drinks and perfume that contain vanilla could be affected.