“The mustard is going to seed”

MBut where did the mustard go? The question will have punctuated the daily life of the French for a good part of the year 2022. Rarely has the condiments department, altogether banal, been scrutinized with so much attention and hopes, most often disappointed. However, as early as February, mustard makers had sounded the alarm, warning consumers of a scheduled shortage. Red alert on the yellow condiment!

On this occasion, everyone discovered behind the scenes of its production. This time, there is no question of incriminating the war in Ukraine or the crisis due to Covid-19. Lead screed in Canada, frost and rain in France… the weather cocktail turned sour for the mustard seed. In particular the brown seed, acclaimed for the strong so-called “Dijon” mustard, when the yellow seed is sweeter. “Brown seed production has dropped by 40% to 50% in Canada. Usually, France imports from this country nearly 80% of the 40,000 tonnes it needs each year. We had twice as many “, explains Luc Vandermaesen, president of the Mustard Association of Burgundy (AMB).

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Even if the stocks made it possible for a time to limit the air pocket, the mustard ended up being scarce. Especially since consumers have not failed to rush to the shelves at the slightest delivery. Manufacturers and distributors have measured the risk of depending so heavily on a single country for supplies. Burgundian farmers were encouraged to replant the precious seed more widely.

Too late for 2022, because the crop schedule was already completed in the fall of 2021. But luckily, the mustard benefited from good weather. And the harvest that ended in July proved it. “French production reaches 6,000 tonnes compared to 4,000 tonnes in 2021 », underlines Mr. Vandermaesen. Above all, the “relocalization” of Dijon mustard will accelerate in 2023. “The area planted in Burgundy should increase from 4,000 to 10,000 hectares, with a production target of 15,000 tonnes », affirms the president of the AMB. Dijon mustard goes to seed…

Pungent inflation

To encourage cereal growers to put the condiment in their crop rotation, there’s nothing like getting out the checkbook. The price of Burgundy grain should more than double, going from 900 to 2,000 euros per tonne between 2021 and 2023. Enough to grease the wheels of the mustard industry.

The consumer did not have time to read the price on the label. Yet when it comes to mustard, inflation has been stinging – nearly 35% in 2022 – and a similar increase is being negotiated for 2023. But buyers have also realized that Dijon mustard is a recipe, not a recipe. geographical designation. Importers have not hesitated to offer products made in Poland or Ukraine under this name.

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