France braces for foie gras shortages this winter

The controversial French delicacy foie gras will be in short supply (and more expensive) this Christmas due to supply shortages and increased production costs.

France braces for foie gras shortages this winter
A stack of cans of foie gras is displayed at the 58th International Agriculture Fair in Paris, on February 25, 2022. (Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP)

If you are looking to throw a traditional French Christmas or New Year celebration this year, you may have to consume a bit less foie gras than usual. 

Normally a staple of the holidays, foie gras will be available “in limited quantities” this year, warned Marie-Pierre Pé, director of the Interprofessional Committee of Foie Gras (CIFOG), in French daily Le Parisien on Friday.

READ MORE: The 12 dishes that make up a classic French Christmas feast

With companies producing smaller quantities, “there will be 30 to 40 percent less foie gras on shelves this year,” explained Emmanuel Chardat, director for foie gras at Labeyrie to Le Parisien.

Pé explained that as a result, foie gras -made from the livers of artificially fattened ducks or geese and long the subject of animal rights concerns, will be “inevitably” more expensive this year. 

The shortage in supplies is the result of an intense wave of avian flu that peaked in March 2022 and killed many ducks across France.

The last two winters have been marked by the disease, leading to a loss of over 10 million ducks. France is the top producer and consumer of foie gras – typically raising about 30 million fattened ducks per year. This number dropped to 21 million in 2021 and will only be about 15 million in 2022. 

The lack of ducks due to the spread of disease also impacted breeding during the spring, further amplifying the shortage. 

Regarding production costs, CIFOG reports increases of at least 28 percent since the first half of 2020.

As a result, the foie gras on supermarket shelves this winter will be sparse and more expensive than normally. 

The dish, which is no stranger to controversy, may have already been on the way out, as the French have been decreasing their consumption in recent years due to animal rights concerns.

READ MORE: French mayor’s foie gras ban prompts fury from farmers

While at least 22 million households in France (almost half) still report consuming the dish, production and consumption have fallen sharply since 2015. France went from 18,000 tonnes of foie gras consumed per year in France to 13,900 tonnes in five years. 

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Who is the Czech billionaire who has saved left-leaning French newspaper Libération?

He owns the 18th-century Chateau du Marais, has stakes in supermarket Casino and Fnac stores, part owns Le Monde and has now rescued France's left-leaning daily newspaper Liberation.

Who is the Czech billionaire who has saved left-leaning French newspaper Libération?

The Czech billionaire businessman Daniel Kretinsky agreed to finance the loss-making French left-leaning daily Libération until it breaks even, according to the paper’s owners on Tuesday.

The billionaire agreed to lend €14 million to Libération to guarantee “the financing of the title until its return to equilibrium” in 2026.

So who is Kretinsky and what else does he own in France?

Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky gives a speech during the 13th “Rencontres de l’Udecam” in Paris on September 5, 2019.  (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

Other French media: Prior to Libération, Kretinsky had already heavily invested in French media as owner of Elle magazine and part-owner of the daily Le Monde. Kretinsky’s foundation will also inject €1 million into the Fund for the Support of Independent Media (FDPI), the majority-owners of Liberation, according to an internal announcement made by Liberation’s Managing Director Denis Olivennes.

Tuesday’s statement quoted Kretinsky as saying he was “happy to participate in this way to the continued existence of an independent newspaper that is essential to democratic debate”.

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An 18th century castle – His last big acquisition in France was the historic 18th-century Chateau du Marais castle outside Paris, adding a luxury hotel project to his existing French media and retailing empire.

Kretinsky is 47 years old, and has a net worth of approximately €5 billion, according to Forbes magazine.