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Sacrebleu! A shortage of Dijon mustard sparks a very French food crisis

Raifalsa makes mustards and mayonnaise.

Maurice Rougemont/Getty Images

  • A shortage of Dijon mustard has left French people desperately searching for a substitute.  
  • Mustard is mainly used to accompany red meats or to make vinaigrettes for salads.
  • Despite its substitutes, Dijon mustard is “irreplaceable” and “indispensable” to French cuisine.

Dijon mustard is a must-have condiment for most French families – whether it be to accompany red meat or to make a vinaigrette – but an ongoing shortage of the condiment has left French people up in arms.

“We managed to find one pot in an independent grocery store that received only six pots last week,” Nathalie Prevos told Insider. 

Despite its name, Dijon mustard is produced using seeds from other countries such as Canada. About 80% of the brown seeds used to make the Dijon mustard come from there, Luc Vandermaesen, director of Reine de Dijon mustard manufacturer and president of the Burgundy Mustard Association, told The New York Times.

“The main issue is climate change and the result is this shortage. We can’t respond to the orders we get, and retail prices are up as much as 25% reflecting the soaring cost of seeds,” he said.

Prevos, 50, said: “My husband uses it often to add to pie or to use alongside crème fraiche, and we always use it in vinaigrettes. We have yet to find a substitute.”

France is the world’s largest consumer of mustard, getting through about 2.2 pounds a year per person, according to The Times report. Other countries might be hit by a mustard shortage, but France’s crisis is unique as it relies so heavily on Canadian seeds.

Paul-Olivier Claudepierre, the co-owner of Martin-Pouret, which sells French mustards and vinegars, told Le Monde it was time to “relocalize production.”

“We cultivate, thousands of kilometers away, a seed that we are going to harvest, bring to a port, transport across the ocean in containers, in order to transform it at home,” he said. “That costs a lot, and what a great carbon toll.”

A substitute?

What distinguishes the mustard from other condiment is its kick, or as French describe it, “ça me monte au nez,” or “it’s rising into my nose.”

One substitute is raifort, a French sauce made of horseradish, according to It belongs to the family of the brassicaceae. It is a root vegetable, used as a spice and as a condiment.

Agathe Hochard, 24, told Insider that older generations may want Dijon mustard with their steaks, but people her age did not:  the younger generation would not think twice about it.

“I can’t remember a time when I chose Dijon mustard over anything else. I would rather go for a sauce blanche, burger, or even barbecue.”

However, Hochard’s mother said Dijon mustard is “irreplaceable” and “indispensable” to French cuisine.

In most supermarkets in France, mustard shelves have been emptied for at least a couple of months, with some supermarkets apologizing for the lack of stock. Signs in Intermarché blame “a drought in Canada” and Ukraine’s “conflict with Russia” for the shortages.

US consumers do not appear to be affected, however. Neither Kraft Heinz, which owns Grey Poupon, and McCormick, which makes French’s mustard, nor foresee empty shelves in American stores, USA Today reported.

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