How climate change is clobbering a famed French condiment
Dijon mustard disappears from French supermarkets due to seed shortage.
(A native of England, Matthew Diebel is a veteran journalist who has worked at NBC News, Time, USA Today and News Corp., among other organizations. Having spent his childhood next to one of the world's fastest bodies of water, he is particularly interested in tidal energy.)
If you’re a wine connoisseur, you’ll recognize that France’s Burgundy region is among the world’s finest producers, with smellers and sippers arguing its merits against the products of other areas.
If you’re a mustard maven, though, you’ll know that Burgundy’s delicious Dijon, named after its capital city, has no equal.
And now the coveted condiment, which is typically made using the local wine, is under threat from the effects of global warming, with French mustard producers saying seed production in 2021 was down 50% after poor harvests, a result of the changing climate in Burgundy region and Canada, the second largest mustard seed producer in the world.
With the amber accompaniment disappearing from the shelves of French supermarkets and specialty shops, Luc Vandermaesen, general manager of Reine de Dijon, one of France’s largest mustard producers, told The Guardian that a “heat dome” in Canada at the beginning of July in 2021 had “really dried up the crops.” In Burgundy, he added, “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% of expectations.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has further restricted seed supply and exploded prices, said Vandermaesen, with both of the warring nations being major mustard seed exporters. He said Reine de Dijon tried to purchase 50 tonnes of seed on the market in April and found it to be “six times the normal price the year before.”
Maybe — sacre bleu! — they will have to turn to neighboring England, which had a strong mustard harvest last year (and is a major mustard producer). David Martin, the chief executive of Condimentum, which processes the bulk of U.K. mustard seed, said they had seen “a huge spike in interest.”
And, no doubt, a huge spike in prices.