Global warming is felt even on our plates. The severe droughts that hit part of Canada last summer created a shortage and inflation that hit hard the traditional Dijon mustard industry.
“In 2021-2022, it is estimated that mustard seed production fell by 28%” in Canada, the world’s largest producer, according to the latest report from the Canadian Ministry of Agriculture. “Consequently, the average price should be almost double from 2020-2021, to a record of 1,700 dollars per tonne”, or 1,510 euros, adds the ministry.
A DISASTROUS DROUGHT IN THE SUMMER OF 2021
“There was a disastrous drought in Western Canada” last summer, explains Ramzy Yelda, commodities analyst. “Those who want top-of-the-range mustard will pay more,” sums up the expert. And when Canada coughs, it’s Burgundy that catches a cold, more than 7,000 km away.
The French region, where the vast majority of mustard manufacturers are located, is in fact very dependent on Canadian farmers for the manufacture of this condiment, which is consumed around the world. “We are in a crisis that we have never seen for 25 years,” laments Christophe Planes, sales director for France at “Reine de Dijon”, the third French mustard producer, a subsidiary of the German group Develey.
THE EXPLOSION IN THE PRICE OF SEEDS … AND PACKAGING PRODUCTS
“The price of seeds has increased three or four times, and maybe five soon,” he adds. “And besides, there is no offer. The rarefaction is such that we have a potential reduction of 50% of seeds ”. “Our production is therefore less than 50%,” he says. “The shortage is there”, confirms Marika Zimmermann, industrial director of the company based near Dijon: “Normally, our production lines operate 120 hours per week. We are currently at 60 hours on average ”.
The situation is all the more tense as the prices of all packaging products are soaring. “Every day, I am told an increase. The impact on overall prices is over 60%, ”says Christophe Planes. Marc Désarménien, director of the Fallot mustard factory, the last French company in the sector, lists the increases: “The metal caps of the jars have increased by 42%, the glass by 12%, the cardboard by 20%…”. Burgundy white wine, another essential ingredient, has doubled due to the late frost which severely reduced the harvest in 2021. The mustard maker, which exports half of its production to Japan, also points to the cost of sea freight “multiplied by 4.5 or even 6, which represents 10 to 15% of the selling price”.
INSUFFICIENT BURGUNDY PRODUCTION
Fallot has already decided for 2022 to increase its mustards of “between 7 and 16%” for 2022. Reine de Dijon also plans an increase: “we need it otherwise the company does not live”, explains Christophe Planes. To try to find a solution, the person in charge would like to limit dependence on Canada, the main supplier of seeds processed by mustard plants, and “push the production of mustard seeds in Burgundy”.
“It’s impossible,” replies Fabrice Genin, mustard seed producer in Marsannaye-le-Bois, in Côte d’Or, and president of the Association of Burgundy Mustard Seed Producers (APGMB). Once very widespread, the local cultivation of seeds had made Dijon’s reputation since the Middle Ages, but recent history has been marked by a marked decline in production, due to the globalization of trade and competition from countries with higher returns.
FARMERS SUFFERING FROM GLOBAL WARMING
After stimulus efforts, local farmers are now suffering from global warming which, “for 3-4 years, has caused an increase in insect populations,” explains Fabrice Genin. “Sometimes we don’t have any production at all. However, the industry no longer has the right to insecticides, authorized in Canada, ”he complains.
The production of Burgundy seeds has therefore been “divided by three in four years, from 12,000 tonnes to 4,000 tonnes in 2021 while the mustard plants could order 16,000 from us”, underlines the farmer. “We are afraid for the future”, summarizes Christophe Planes, of Reine de Dijon. He hopes that “2023 will be better”, but “still fears increases”.