In France, mustard is scarce – that could also happen in Germany
The popular Dijon mustard has been in short supply in French supermarkets for months. Production had collapsed due to supply bottlenecks in mustard seed, and domestic cultivation is now to be boosted again. Mustard could also become scarce in Germany.
“One glass per household” – the note on an empty shelf is simply a reminder that mustard was once sold here. The popular Dijon mustard has been in short supply in French supermarkets for months. Production had collapsed due to supply bottlenecks for mustard seed, and domestic cultivation is now to be boosted again. It could be similar in Germany, where mustard is in danger of becoming scarce.
The reason for the French Dijon mustard shortage is in Canada
For once, the supply problems in France have nothing to do with the Ukraine war. So far, 80 percent of the mustard seed needs of French Dijon producers have been covered by imports from Canada – in the summer of 2021, a drought destroyed around half of the harvest there.
Mustard cultivation in the historical growing region of Burgundy in central France had fallen victim to cheap competition from Canada in recent years. In 2021, French farmers still produced 4000 tons; In 2017 it was three times as much.
This development must now be reversed, says Luc Vandermaesen, chairman of the Burgundy Mustard Association. “We can’t put all our eggs in one basket.” The mustard makers asked local farmers to increase the mustard acreage again from 4,000 to 10,000 hectares and offered to double the price.
France: Forecast for next year is confident
François Détain from Agencourt gave up growing mustard in 2019 after a “disastrous” harvest year due to drought and insect infestation. “But the price we’re being offered now allows us to get back in,” says the farmer. He’s not the only one: “The number of mustard farmers has risen from 160 to over 500. That’s more than we had hoped for,” says Jérôme Gervais from the local Chamber of Agriculture.
Thanks to this year’s harvest in Burgundy, which has already increased significantly, “the shelves will fill up again in October,” predicts association boss Vandermaesen. “In 2023 there will be no more shortages.”
What will happen to this year’s harvest is completely uncertain
There was hardly any French Dijon mustard available in Germany recently, but mustard made in Germany was. So far, mustard seed from Canada has only accounted for around ten percent of imports, so last year’s drought hardly affected German manufacturers. However, almost 80 percent of imports came from Russia and Ukraine, while mustard cultivation is a niche market in Germany.
Manufacturers are still storing supplies in silos, says a spokeswoman for the Kulinaria industry association. But what will happen to this year’s harvest is completely uncertain. “We don’t know what will come from Ukraine and Russia. We don’t expect much.”
The spokeswoman adds that the harvest in Canada was good again. However, this could probably not compensate for a major loss of imports from Eastern Europe. And it’s too late to start growing in Germany. The mustard seed should have been sown in the spring when the war in Ukraine began.