France is running out of dijon mustard and shoppers are scrambling to stock up on the beloved condiment
If you’re in France and are looking for some traditional Dijon “moutarde” to complete your dinner recipe, then you have a problem.
The country is having to adapt to a lingering shortage of the tangy mustard, including the Amora and Maille brands owned by consumer staples giant Unilever Plc, which has led to empty store shelves and frustration among French consumers.
The country’s grocers have been scrambling to get hold of the much-loved condiment, which the French typically use to spice up meats such as duck confit, to create vinaigrettes for salads, or to make fresh mayonnaise.
The penury is the knock-on effect of a heat wave and resulting crop damage last year in Canada, which supplies around 80% of the mustard seeds used in France. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also made it harder to find alternative supplies.
“As more people become aware of this problem, French consumers have raised demand for mustard and stocked up just in case, stimulating out-of-stock situations,” according to Sebastien Eteve, analytic team manager at NielsenIQ.
Monoprix, a banner owned by grocer Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA, confirmed that shortages are impacting deliveries and can be seen in its stores, adding that suppliers were imposing quotas to avoid retailers either completely running out or stockpiling.
“We have regular deliveries, even if they are not always sufficient to ensure the maximum choice for customers, but the offer is constantly assured,” Monoprix said in an emailed statement.
The head of the mustard association of Burgundy, the region that is home to the city that gives the condiment its name, told French media the product should start arriving again from November, with further improvement in early 2023 when the Canadian harvest is delivered. Luc Vandermaesen, who is also director of Reine de Dijon, told Le Monde newspaper, however, the situation would remain tight until 2024.
Meanwhile, as French consumers keep hunting for jars of mustard, they are developing strategies such as flagging on social media as soon as a store has a delivery or even exchanging tips on how to live without it.
Sign up for the Fortune Features email list so you don’t miss our biggest features, exclusive interviews, and investigations.