Missing Mustard, and Climate Change is to Blame

Missing Mustard, and Climate Change is to Blame

mustard with seeds

We’ve definitely been feeling the (40 degree?!) burn recently, but DFC has had the heat turned on another way: climate-change-related drought out west has led to  shortage of our much-needed mustard seeds! Thankfully, the breadth of our product line means we can roll with a certain amount of scarcity, but that’s not the case with mustard-only outfits. Quartz looks at the particular case of France, the world’s biggest consumer market for mustard, and how companies there are struggling to meet demand with so little supply.

“At least 80% of the brown seeds come from Canada, Luc Vandermaesen, director of the Reine de Dijon mustard manufacturer and president of the Burgundy Mustard Association, told the New York Times. A heat wave across Alberta and Saskatchewan cut seed production by 50% last year. Even the smaller Burgundy harvest was hit hard by rising temperatures.

The shortage of seeds is already pushing up retail prices for Dijon mustard – which is used as a spread for sandwiches, a condiment for steak frites, and a crucial base for many classic French sauces – as much as 25%, Vandermaesen said. Some stores, when they have mustard in stock at all, limit customers to one jar per person. French chefs have resorted to appealing online for any spare mustard, and shoppers have come to the manufacturer’s headquarters – which does not sell the product itself – looking for the condiment.”

All of these strategies are stopgaps – purchasing limits, online appeals, even our pivoting to other sauce production. The reality of climate change means that we either have to fundamentally alter how we run our companies, or how we live on this planet. And we are rapidly running out of time to do the latter. I know we’re in the mustard business, so this may sound like heresy, but our planet is worth more than a jar of mustard – or a herd of dairy cattle, or a super yacht. But it looks like we humans can’t know the value of something until it disappears… Especially if it’s as small as a mustard seed.