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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France introduces stricter wine rules for restaurants, bars and cafés

The French government has introduced stricter wine rules for restaurants, bars and cafés, which must now display full information on the origins of all wines they serve.

France introduces stricter wine rules for restaurants, bars and cafés

If you’re ordering a bottle of wine it’s likely that the menu will state where the wine comes from, but previously this was not always the case for wines bought by the glass or carafe.

Most French cafés and restaurants offer wine by the glass as well as pitchers or carafes or various sizes, which are also sometimes referred to as un pot, particularly in the east of France.

Thanks to a new law that came into effect on July 24th, if you order any of these, the bar or restaurant is obliged to display full information on where the wine comes from, and its protected geographical origin (AOP) if it has one.

Any establishments that sell wine – whether for consumption on or off the premises – must display the information in full and in writing. Failure to do so makes them liable to a €1,500 fine. 

The law is a revision of the Loi relative à la transparence de l’information sur les produits agricoles et alimentaires, which came into force in 2020 and is intended to protect French farmers and producers.

French vocab

Une bouteille de vin rouge, s’il vous plaît –  a bottle of red wine, please

Une bouteille de vin blanc – a bottle of white wine

Un pichet de vin rosé – a pitcher of rosé wine

Une carafe de vin – a pitcher of wine

Pichet and carafe are just different words for the same thing, and if you want tap water (as opposed to mineral water) with your meal, ask for un pichet d’eau or une carafe d’eau. Carafes usually come in varying sizes, the most common being 50cl or 25cl.

Cinqante centilitres – 50cl, or two thirds of a bottle

Vingt-cinq centilitres – 25cl, or one third of a bottle

Un pot lyonnais – if you’re in or around Lyon, you might see wine listed on the menu as by the pot – this comes in a carafe that is shaped like a small bottle with a very thick glass bottom. The classic pot lyonnais holds exactly 46 centilitres, or just over half a bottle  

Un verre de vin rouge – a glass of red wine 

Encore de vin, s’il vous plaît – another wine, please (the ‘encore‘ lets your server know that you want another glass/bottle/pitcher of the same wine)

Vin bio – organic wine

Vin naturel – wine produced by ‘natural’ methods 

Bio, natural or biodynamic: 5 things to know about organic wine in France

Qui va goûter? – Who will taste? The standard question that your server will ask when they bring the bottle of wine to your table

Un pot-de-vin – a bribe. Not a wine term as such, but if you hear reference to un pot-de-vin it means a bribe. These days bribes are usually paid in cash, but the origins of the term are pretty clear.