A bottle of Heinz mustard
Source: Unsplash

Mustard Shortage in France Could Spread, Putin Isn't Solely to Blame

Mohit Oberoi, CFA - Author
By

Jun. 15 2022, Published 9:15 a.m. ET

When you shop for groceries, you might have noticed several empty shelves at stores. While it's common for stores to run out of stock, the current shortages of packaged foods and beverages are running above the historical average. Now, we seem to be headed for a condiment shortage and a mustard shortage could hit the tastebuds next.

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There's a Sriracha shortage and restaurants have had to limit the servings or shift to alternatives. The condiment shortage is part of the broader food shortage situation globally. The food shortage is real even if things aren't that bad in the U.S. at least when it comes to staples.

There's a mustard shortage in France.

There's a severe mustard shortage in some parts of the world, especially in France. Even in the U.S., some consumers have struggled to find mustard at grocery stores. However, the situation isn't as bleak in the U.S. and most mustard brands are available on Amazon.

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The U.S. is the largest mustard importer

To understand what’s driving the mustard shortage, we would need to look at the global mustard trade. According to the data from OES (Observatory of Economic Complexity), Canada was the biggest exporter of mustard seeds in 2020 followed by Russia and Germany. India was the fourth biggest exporter, while Ukraine occupied the fifth rank.

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The U.S. was the largest importer of mustard seeds in 2020 followed by France. Germany, Nepal, and Poland were the other top mustard importers globally.

While the U.S. is the largest mustard importer, the country also exports several food products and is a net exporter of food products. As a result, the food shortage situation in the U.S. hasn’t been as severe as in countries that rely heavily on imports.

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Why is there a mustard shortage?

There are three reasons behind the mustard shortage. First, a drought in Western Canada has hit the country’s mustard seed production. Then we had the floods in Western Europe, which complicated the situation. The fact that Russia and Ukraine are among the top five exporters isn't helping matters either.

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has hit the country’s food production and its ability to export. It looks like part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s design to pressurize the West as the world grapples with a food shortage and skyrocketing food prices.

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Weather conditions are also to blame for food shortages.

Adverse weather conditions are also to blame for the food shortage situation in 2022. Talking specifically of mustard, the weather conditions in Canada and Europe have impacted production.

While the Russia-Ukraine war led to a global wheat shortage, negative weather conditions in India amplified the problem. The country was looking to export record wheat in 2022 before it abruptly imposed export restrictions after high temperatures impacted its wheat production.

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Extreme weather conditions like floods, drought, and high temperatures have become more frequent due to climate change. While the global community is taking steps to address climate change, things aren't moving as quickly as needed.

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