Good Mustard Is Getting Hard to Find in France

Poor seed harvests and supply chain issues are causing a temporary shortage.

Dijon mustard

If you've not checked your "What Are We Running Low On Now" bingo card lately, give it a look to see if you have the Dijon mustard square. According to reports from both Canada and France, the condiment could be in short supply for the next few months, as a result of environmental factors and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Canada is one of the world's biggest exporters of mustard seeds, and drought-like conditions in the western part of the country led to a poor harvest this season. According to an outlook report from Agriculture and Agri Food Canada (AAFC), both the crop yield per hectare and the overall production levels have fallen by almost 50 percent compared to last year.

Luc Vandermaesen, the general manager of French mustard producer Reine de Dijon, told The Guardian that mustard seeds weren't faring much better in France. "In Burgundy, the region had a very wet winter and then three days of cold at the beginning of April last year, so we only harvested about 48 [percent] of expectations," he explained to the outlet. He also added that the war in Ukraine has affected mustard's availability, as both countries export a significant amount of seeds too.

As a result of this year's smaller crop, the average price of mustard seeds is expected to skyrocket. "The price of seeds has gone up three or four times, and maybe five times soon," Christophe Planes, the French sales director at Reine de Dijon, previously told AFP. "And, on top of that, there is no supply. The scarcity is such that we have a potential 50 percent decrease in seeds... so our production is down 50 percent."

The price of mustard has increased by nine percent in France, according to one study, but customers may not have noticed yet. Vandermaesen told the Financial Times that the average resident in France spent less than $5 (€4.80) every year on mustard. But that's no solace to people who are currently trying to buy a jar: one resident harrumphed to the Times that he'd been to "25 shops" and still couldn't find "the good stuff."

Here in the U.S., we may not be facing a condiment-related catastrophe yet. A spokesperson for McCormick & Company told Axios that a "resilient global supply chain and strong sourcing capabilities" had prevented the company from facing any current shortages. "French's Mustard will be on store shelves for consumers to enjoy," the company said.

Similarly, a Kraft Heinz spokesperson told the outlet that Grey Poupon should still be available as usual. "As soon as our cross-functional 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," the company confirmed to Axios.

That sound you just heard was a sigh of relief coming from hot dog eaters everywhere.

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