Price of foie gras in France set to rocket this Christmas

The price of foie gras is set to rocket in France once again this Christmas as the ravaged industry continues to suffer the effects of two outbreaks of avian flu in as many years.

Price of foie gras in France set to rocket this Christmas
Photo: AFP
The controversial delicacy remains popular in France, especially at Christmas when it is is eaten by 86 percent of people.
But this year they'll have to dig deeper into their pockets to cover the cost, with some farms left with half the number of ducks bred for the purpose of producing the delicacy.  
Two outbreaks of bird flu in as many years have seen production of foie gras drop nearly 20 percent on 2016 levels and 40 percent compared to 2015 levels. 
In 2016 and 2017, all farms in the south west were forced to slaughter their ducks to stop the virus spreading.

France imposes three-month ban on making foie grasPhoto: AFP

Thomas Lafargue, a duck breeder from Landes department in southwestern France usually produces 70,000 foie gras ducks but for the second year in a row has produced just 35,000, reported Franceinfo
As a result prices will soar for the second year in a row.
This means that 180 grammes of foie gras will jump €4 compared to last year's prices, according to Franceinfo, with another French press report suggesting that the price hike will amount to  a whopping 10-25 percent increase. 
In 2016, The Local reported on a ban on French foie gras producers exporting their product outside Europe after the discovery of a new case of bird flu at a farm in the south west.
The outbreak near the town of Carmaux led to the deaths of 3,000 ducks out of the 5,000 on the farm.
Authorities confirmed it was an outbreak of the H5N8 strain of bird flu, which is “highly pathogenic” for birds but harmless for humans.
France usually produces 75 percent of the world's foie gras which is mostly made through the controversial method of force feeding geese and ducks to fatten their livers.
Force-feeding — known as “gavage” in France — has been banned in several countries but is legal in France and the luxury dish has become a battleground between animals-rights campaigners and defenders of France's gourmet traditions.


Ban ‘barbaric’ French foie gras, Danish politicians urge EU

Danish left-wing party SF (Socialist People’s Party) wants a debate on whether it should be legal to produce and sell French delicacy foie gras in the EU.

Ban 'barbaric' French foie gras, Danish politicians urge EU
File photo: Benoit Tessier / Reuters / Ritzau Scanpix

The party, a parliamentary ally of the governing Social Democrats, wants foie gras banned in the European Union and has called its production “barbaric”.

“It is one of the most barbaric ways food can be produced. These birds are treated very badly, and we don’t think it’s okay,” SF spokesperson on food Carl Valentin said.

“Danes have actually already morally rejected this to a large extent. Consumption is falling fast [in Denmark, ed.] and production is already illegal in Denmark. That’s why we’re focusing on this issue,” Valentin continued.

Discussion of the matter by politicians follows a decision by management at Torvehallerne, an upscale food market in Copenhagen, to recommend its concession holders not to sell the French dish, a paté made from the livers of geese or ducks.

Torvehallerne made the decision after customers posted complaints on its Facebook page over the sale of foie gras at Ma Poule, a stand at the market which sells French specialities.

Although production of the delicacy is banned in Denmark, importing it is not, as such a ban is prevented by European Single Market laws.

Foie gras production involves overfeeding geese and duck for the last two weeks before they are slaughtered. This causes them to develop fatty liver disease, with the organ expanding to six to ten times its normal size, according to Danish animal welfare charity Dyrenes Beskyttelse.

90 percent of foie gras now comes from geese, rather than duck, which was previously the preferred bird, according to the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (DVFA). Although the majority of production is in France, the foodstuff is also made in Belgium, Bulgaria, Spain and Hungary.

EU rules do forbid foie gras from being produced in places where it has not previously been made, according to the DVFA website.

Valentin said he wanted the union to outlaw what he termed a “dish for the upper classes”.

“The reason I mention the upper class is that this is very much a dish for the upper classes. I think it’s sad that there’s so little focus on animal welfare and more thought goes to pleasing taste buds than protecting animals,” the SF spokesperson said.

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