Tienda Gourmet

After sunflower oil, why does France lack mustard?

Poor fries, who after seeing their production decline due to the shortage of sunflower oil, could now find themselves orphaning their beloved sauce, mustard. For several weeks, restaurateurs and consumers have indeed been reporting the difficulty of obtaining mustard, even in Dijon, which is nevertheless known to be the stronghold of its production.

Because France imports more mustard seeds than it produces, and its main supplier, Canada, is seeing its harvests collapse due to the drought that hit the country’s crops last year. The Canadian Ministry of Agriculture estimates a 28% drop in production over the 2021-2022 financial year: this failure automatically leads to a drop in exports and a rise in prices. It is now necessary to pay 1,500 euros to buy a ton of seeds, which is double the amount of the previous year. The Iri company, which monitors supermarket prices in particular, notes, in a report published in April, an increase in the price of a jar of mustard of 9.26% over one year, one of the largest increases of all foodstuffs combined. .

France can also no longer rely on two other mustard seed exporters, Russia and Ukraine, which could have provided a backup solution. It could turn on itself, since France represents 50% of total European production. But, here too, crops are suffering: farmers in particular deplore the difficulty of protecting themselves from harmful insects since the ban, in 2019, of the pesticides they used to overcome them.

“The yield data is highly correlated with insect tolerance and late frost tolerance,” writes the association of Burgundy mustard seed producers on its website. However, in addition to the ravages of weevils and other aphids, French production was greatly reduced due to the late cold snap that hit in the spring of 2021, reducing the harvest by 50% over the year.

For all these reasons, some supermarket shelves therefore seem very empty. Not to mention the tendency, among some citizens, to store the foodstuffs they are afraid of running out of in the future, as was observed during the first confinement. This overconsumption is reducing already very low reserve stocks to a trickle.

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