This popular condiment is now in short supply due to climate change and the war in Ukraine

Here's everything you need to know about the history of mustard along with why the production of the condiment is currently suffering.

Mustard, a component of the traditional vinaigrette, is a very popular condiment. It is used in many culinary preparations throughout the world. In fact, mustard is the 3rd most consumed condiment in the world. Dijon, one of the variants of mustard has been consumed since antiquity.

History of mustard

Mustard is a plant of the Brassicaceae family. This flowering plant produces small seeds ranging from white to black that is approximately one millimetre in diameter. Contrary to what one might think, mustard does not come from Dijon, even though this French city is very famous for its recipe. As informed by Diwine Taste, mustard was introduced to the Gauls by the Romans. They called this condiment mustumardens (burning must). Mixed with grape must, this preparation was already consumed long before the invention of 'Dijon mustard.'

Over time, mustard has evolved and many variations have been created. Dijon mustard, for example, is made from black and brown mustard seeds, ground mostly with vinegar or verjuice (unripe grape juice), salt and citric acid. However, the production of mustard seeds does not, majorly, take place in France.

Shortage of seeds

Some of the seeds do come from Eastern Europe (notably Ukraine and Russia). However, as shared by Libération, 80% of the seeds come from Canada. So why the shortage? Quite simply because Canada suffered a major drought in 2021 and mixed with the crises due to Russia-Ukraine, the producers are struggling to keep up with the demand, reports BBC. In December 2021, Libération also warned:

Dijon mustard producers are already planning a decrease in their production and an increase in prices for consumers

Thus, a report from the Canadian Ministry of Agriculture on 19 November 2021 announced:

For 2021-2022, production has dropped by 28%, due to lower yields and acreage planted.

Since 2019, new directives ban the use of pesticides. Farmers and mustard seed producers are struggling to protect themselves from the insects that are spreading within French production. Fabrice Genin, president of the Association of Burgundy Mustard Seed Producers (APGMB) told Libération in April :

From 12,000 tonnes in 2016, we have dropped to 4,000 tonnes in 2021. It's simple, we can no longer manage the pests.

This article is translated from Oh!MyMag FR.

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