climate change

We Could See Less Mustard on Shelves This Summer Due to Seed Shortage

First, it was Sriracha. Now the climate crisis is coming for your summer condiment go-to

Bottles of H.J. Heinz Co. yellow mustard are displayed for sale at a supermarket in Closter, New Jersey
Craig Giammona/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Your favorite punchy yellow burger condiment could be in short supply this summer.

Bleak seed harvests from 2021 have sprouted into paltry mustard supplies in France. According to The Guardian, United States grocery shelves might be next.

With Canada being the world’s number one producer of mustard seeds, severe hot weather in the country’s southern region earlier this year is being cited as a larger part of the problem. According to AG Canada, mustard plants that would typically produce eight to 10 seeds in a pod, eked out a mere four to six seeds this year. Poor harvests brought on by bad climate in France have only compounded the issue of the reserve.

Reine de Dijon is one of France’s largest mustard producers. Christophe Planes, a sales director for the company, told French state-owned news organization France24 that the current shortage is unprecedented.

“We’re in a crisis we haven’t seen for 25 years. The price of seeds has gone up three or four times, and maybe five times soon,” Planes told the outlet. “And, on top of that, there is no supply. The scarcity is such that we have a potential 50 percent decrease in seeds... so our production is down 50 percent.”

The ongoing war in Ukraine has also led to adverse effects on the mustard supply chain. In 2020, both Russia and Ukraine were ranked as the third and fifth most significant exporters of mustard seeds in the world, respectively.

You might have noticed that your morning cup of coffee is costing a lot more these days— nearly double since last year— and climate change is partly to blame. But small businesses like Nguyen Coffee Supply in New York and FRINJ Coffee in California are working to protect the industry with a more sustainable product.

The industry isn’t the only condiment producer unable to cut the mustard in the supply chain.

In April, Sriracha maker Huy Fong Foods revealed climate conditions had depleted its supply of the hot sauce. A letter sent to wholesale buyers that month cited a shortage of chili pepper inventory brought on by weather-related issues as the problem.

“Currently, due to weather conditions affecting the quality of chili peppers, we now face a more severe shortage of chili,” the letter explained. “Unfortunately, this is out of our control, and without this essential ingredient, we are unable to produce any of our products.” 

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