France Is Running Out of Its Favorite Condiment

Climate change, war blamed for mustard shortage
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 17, 2022 4:05 PM CDT
Mustard Shortage Roils France
American companies say the mustard shortage probably won't spread to the US.   (AP Photo/Charles Krup)

French people consume more mustard than anybody else on the planet—and they're perturbed by its disappearance from supermarket shelves in recent weeks. Many stores have completely run out and others are limiting sales to one jar per person. "I eat lots of mustard but there’s no mustard in Paris," musician Didier Marouani tells the Financial Times. "I’ve been to 25 shops, and we’ve found nothing—well, there is some mustard, but it’s not the good stuff.” The "good stuff" in French cuisine is Dijon mustard, named after the capital of the Burgundy region, and the shortage has caused many French people to find out that most of it doesn't actually come from the area, reports the New York Times.

The director of the Reine de Dijon mustard manufacturer tells the Times that 80% of the brown seeds used to make the mustard come from Canada, where a heat wave blamed on climate change devastated last year's crop. High temperatures also hit the Burgundy crop. "The main issue is climate change and the result is this shortage," says Luc Vandermaesen. He says the company is getting dozens of calls a day from people desperate for mustard, and some mustard-seekers are even turning up at its corporate offices. The mustard shortage has been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine—a backup source of seeds—and COVID-related supply chain issues.

Producers plan to start planting more mustard in France to reduce reliance on imports but for now, people are turning to alternatives like wasabi and Worcestershire sauce, the Times reports. In the US, major suppliers say that while mustard markets worldwide are likely to remain tight for months, American consumers probably won't face any yellow or brown mustard shortages. "As soon as our Grey Poupon team identified a potential supply issue, we immediately worked to identify other sources of brown mustard seed in different parts of the world," Kraft Heinz said in a statement, per USA Today. (More mustard stories.)

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