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.
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.
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.