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Why the French Galette des Rois is getting more expensive

At this time of year, there is nothing the French love more than to serve up a nice Galette des Rois. Unfortunately though a multitude of factors mean that this speciality is much more expensive in 2022.

A French Galette des Rois is typically served at this time of year.
A French Galette des Rois is typically served at this time of year. Unfortunately, the price is rising. (Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP)

Many people in France enjoy a Galette des Rois around this time of year. 

If you’re not familiar with the dish, it is basically a frangipane tart made with pastry, butter, ground almonds and a few extra ingredients that will stretch the already bursting waistline for one final time before the January dieting begins.

It is traditionally served on Epiphany – a Christian festival celebrated on January 6th and has many fun traditions attached.

READ ALSO Galette des rois: What you need to know about France’s royal tart

Aficionados will have noticed that the price of these cholesterol bombs has shot up since last year, in some cases, by as much as €2. 

The reason for this inflation are rising butter prices. 

The Eurex derivatives market showed that one tonne of butter cost €4,600 in October and is now close to €6,000. Even though prices are still a fair way off the great butter crisis of 2017 when prices reached close to €7,000 per tonne, bakeries are still struggling and this has a knock-on effect on consumers.

So what is driving these increased prices? 

There are multiple factors, essentially boiling down to supply and demand, that mean the price of butter is increasing. 

Demand is higher than ever before, not just in France, but internationally. A quarter of butter produced in France is exported to other EU countries. And China imported 20 percent more butter from the European Union in 2021 than the year before. 

Supply is struggling to keep up. Many dairy farmers prefer to use milk for cheese production as it is more profitable. As much as 30 percent of dairy production in France ends up being used for pizzas or as hamburger cheese to be sold in shops and restaurants. 

The spring and summer of 2021 was also unseasonably cold and rainy meaning that there was not enough good quality hay for cows to eat, resulting in lower milk production. Overall, last year saw a 2 percent fall in overall milk production in France compared to the year before. 

Read More France faces Christmas cheese shortage

Another factor is that despite enormous government subsidies, the agricultural sector in France is struggling. Over the past for years, the number of dairy cows has decreased by around 250,000. 

All of this has seen the price of butter, a key ingredient of Galette des Rois, soar. 

Does this mean other products will become more expensive? 

Logically, it would follow that other products where butter is a key ingredient, such as croissants, will become more expensive. This was certainly the case during the butter shortage of 2017 – although the crisis then was deeper than the current one. 

If you haven’t already felt the price of goods at the boulangerie increase, it could be because bakers are often aware of upcoming shortfalls. 

“We heard about the rise [of butter prices] in September, so we decided to stock up. I bought two times more butter than normal,” said Bruno Struillou, a baker in Plobannalec-Lesconil. 

“If we manage to sell lots of Galettes in January, let’s say 10 percent more than normal, that will compensate the price rises. Otherwise, we will have to increase the price a little bit on other buttery products in February and March,” he told France Bleu

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LIVING IN FRANCE

MAP: The 20 cheapest French towns and cities to live in

The cost of living is a hot topic in France and across Europe right now - so where are the cheapest places to live?

MAP: The 20 cheapest French towns and cities to live in

At a time when purchasing power has never been so central to French people’s concerns, French daily Le Parisien has compiled a list of towns and cities where your money will go the furthest.

In order to produce this ranking, Le Parisien compiled the average salary in each location and then looked at the price of the average supermarket shop, the cost of transport (fuel as well as public transport), property prices (to buy or rent), property tax rates and the cost of a cinema ticket. 

READ ALSO Food, fuel and transport: Which prices will rise in France in 2023?

And it turns out smaller is better.

Of the 96 towns and cities tested, Niort, in the département of Deux-Sèvres in south west France (population around 60,000) came top,

Laval, in Mayenne (population around 50,000) was third; Saint-Brieuc, in the Brittany département of Côtes-d’Armor (population around 45,000), was 8th, and Rodez, down in the southern département of Aveyron (pop: c 25,000) was 10th.

The 20 most wallet-friendly towns in France are:

  1. Niort
  2. Châteauroux
  3. Laval
  4. Nevers
  5. Belfort
  6. Chaumont
  7. Épinal
  8. Saint-Brieuc
  9. Saint-Étienne
  10. Rodez
  11. Châlons-en-Champagne
  12. Quimper
  13. Arras
  14. Foix
  15. Poitiers
  16. Le Mans
  17. Colmar
  18. Montauban
  19. Bourg-en-Bresse
  20. Nantes

READ ALSO The 20 small towns most popular with house-hunters in France

Niort gains, the study found, in part because it has offered free local public transport since 2017 - a policy that other towns that rank well also implement, including second-placed Châteauroux (Indre), Bourg-en-Bresse (Ain, 24th) and Gap (Hautes-Alpes, 63rd).

For various reasons, including infrastructure, offering free public transport that meets higher levels of demand in larger cities is unviable, the report said. 

In fact, France’s larger cities are noticeably low in Le Parisien’s rankings. Lyon stumbled on to the list in 58th, Paris in 77th, Marseille 84th, and Montpellier 90th. Nantes, coming in 20th, is the only ‘large city’ representative in the top 20.

READ ALSO Wild boar, fast internet and kindly neighbours – why small-town France has the best of all worlds

The report stated that, despite salaries being little higher than average in larger conurbations, people also pay more for shopping, public transport, movie tickets, and housing.

The survey found that, on the whole, your euro goes further in the west of the country - where supermarkets are cheaper, and towns aren’t too congested, while the cost of a tank of fuel is lower, as are - researchers discovered - the more abstract costs, such as insurance, for the same level of service as elsewhere.

READ ALSO OPINION: An inflation ‘tsunami’ is about to hit France

Eastern France, the study found, benefited from relatively cheap property prices - offering more bang for a house-buying buck than the expensive ‘coastal bounce’-affected south or the Ile-de-France region, which orbits the cost-of-living singularity that is Paris.

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