The Prairies are responsible for France’s mustard shortage

France has been suffering a Dijon mustard shortage because of last year’s drought covering all of the Canadian Prairies.

France has been suffering a mustard shortage because of last year’s drought covering all of the Canadian Prairies.

When Canada‘s agricultural industry has a bad year, it affects the world.

When I launched The Flatlander last November, I wrote about how drought on The Prairies caused a pasta shortage in Europe (Why snow is important to the local economy). Now we are also responsible for a Dijon mustard shortage in France.

France is the second-largest importer of mustard seeds in the world. (America is the biggest market for mustard).

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  • The French eat a kilogram of mustard a year. French people put it on fries, sandwiches, and popular dishes like steak tartare. 
  • Mustard making in Dijon, a city in Burgandy, France, goes back to the late Middle Ages.
  • Dijon mustard, named after the city, was first used in 1336 as part of a meal for King Philip VI. 

French manufacturers get 80 per cent of the brown mustard seeds they need to make Dijon mustard from Canada, but last year’s drought halved our harvest.

  • Russia and Ukraine also produce mustard, but because of the war, these markets are inaccessible.

Mix in other supply chain issues–shipping containers are hard to come by, and the high cost of fuel–and mustard in France is in short supply.  

Because of Canada, France had to slash its mustard production by half. 

  • French grocery stores are limiting their customers to only being allowed to buy one container per visit. 
A mustard bloom in a field.
A mustard bloom in a field. GETTY IMAGES.

Breaking Canada’s mustard production down by province.

  • Saskatchewan produces 80 per cent of Canada’s mustard.
  • Manitoba hasn’t historically grown much mustard. 2001 to 2003 were probably the province’s most significant mustard production years, but the volume was relatively low compared to Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Saskatchewan grows three types of mustard.

  • Yellow mustard uses include making traditional hot dog mustard, mayonnaise and salad dressings. Yellow mustard also acts as a water-binding agent and protein extender in prepared meats.
  • Oriental mustard, sold to Asian markets, is made into spicy cooking oil.
  • Brown mustard is also spicy and used to make Dijon mustard. Remember the Grey Poupon TV commercials from the 1980s? That is a brand of Dijon mustard. 

Mustard production in Saskatchewan by year:

  • In 2020, 70,000 hectares, or 172,000 acres, of mustard were planted.
  • Last year Alberta and Saskatchewan seeded just over 120,000 hectares, or 300,000 acres, according to data from the Canadian Grain Commission.
  • This year. Saskatchewan farmers planted about 550,000 acres or about 220,000 hectares.

The 10-year average is 160,000 hectares or 400,000 acres. So production was down 25 per cent in 2021 and is up 40 per cent this year. 

The 2021 yield, however, was 35 per cent of the 10-year average because of drought conditions last year.

When there is a supply shortage, prices increase.

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This week the price for 45 kilograms of brown mustard was about $90. A year ago, it was $50.

Earlier this summer, prices were flying high. They were at about $182 for the same amount.  

Prices tend to drop as supply comes down. 

To meet demand, condiment companies could have turned to other countries, like Nepal, which produces a comparable amount of mustard to Canada. However, Nepal doesn’t export much. 

Other big mustard producers, not counting Russia and Ukraine, are:

  • Myanmar
  • The U.S.
  • China
  • Kazakhstan
  • France
  • Czechia

Over the last several years, France’s mustard crops have struggled because of insects that thrive in the recent warm temperatures experienced by the country.  


Although Canada exports mustard worldwide, we don’t manufacture it here. 

We repurchase mustard seeds in a bottle 20 times the export price. 

How we talk about the Prairies

Last week, I wrote about how in face of tragedy, the international media has described life on the Canadian Prairies as idyllic, pleasant and innocent. (How do we talk to the world about the Prairies?) Flatlander readers responded by writing how they would describe the Prairies to the rest of the world.

Here is what they said

To read more and join the conversation, see our pinned post on Facebook.

Until next week…

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Thanks for reading, and kind regards,

Kelly-Anne Riess

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