Pro­duc­ers of Di­jon trou­bled as drought cuts seed har­vest

The Buffalo News - - BUSINESS NEWS - By Jen Skerritt BLOOMBERG NEWS

Food­ies be­ware: the tiny brown seeds used to make high-end Di­jon mus­tard are in short sup­ply and get­ting more ex­pen­sive.

Canada, the world’s big­gest grower, has been rav­aged by drought in its south­ern Prairie prov­inces, cut­ting the har­vest of all mus­tard-crop va­ri­eties by half to the small­est in 11 years. Among the hard­est hit are brown mus­tard seeds, boost­ing the in­gre­di­ent cost of the spicy condi­ment fa­vored by chefs as well as shop­pers of brands like Grey Poupon or Maille Di­jon Orig­i­nale.

While Amer­i­cans eat a lot more yel­low mus­tard on ball­park hot dogs or mixed into salad dress­ings, Euro­pean coun­tries are big con­sumers of the brown va­ri­ety. Tighter sup­plies of seeds from Canada – also the world’s big­gest mus­tard-seed ex­porter – could hurt food mak­ers in the U.S., the top buyer, as well as ma­jor im­porters in­clud­ing Bel­gium, France, Ja­pan and Sene­gal.

“There is no sub­sti­tute for brown mus­tard in mak­ing Di­jon,” said Wal­ter Dyck, man­ager of the mus­tard seed di­vi­sion at Pleas­ant Prairie, Wis.-based Olds Prod­ucts Co., which has been mak­ing mus­tard for more than a cen­tury and is the sec­ond-largest man­u­fac­turer in North Amer­ica. “The price – it can move higher quite quickly when sup­plies are tight,” Dyck said by tele­phone from Leth­bridge, Al­berta. “Ev­ery­body that needs it has to have it.”

Some south­ern parts of Saskatchewan and Al­berta got less than 60 per­cent of nor­mal rain­fall since the start of the grow­ing sea­son, ac­cord­ing to the na­tion’s agri­cul­ture min­istry. Farm­ers – in­clud­ing those in neigh­bor­ing North Dakota in the U.S. – en­dured a “very dry and very hot” grow­ing sea­son that led to a sig­nif­i­cant de­cline in crop yields af­ter the har­vest be­gan in Au­gust, Olds Prod­ucts said in a Sept. 20 re­port.

Pro­duc­tion of all va­ri­eties of Cana­dian mus­tard seed tum­bled to 114,900 met­ric tons this sea­son from 235,600 tons in 2016, ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates by Sta­tis­tics Canada, a govern­ment agency. The weather also re­duced out­put of big­ger crops in­clud­ing wheat and bar­ley.

“Mus­tard is in shorter sup­ply,” said Kevin Hursh, who planted 300 acres on his farm in Cabri, Saskatchewan. The farm got less than 3 inches of rain since April 1, and yields shrank by more than 10 per­cent from a year ear­lier, said Hursh, who is ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Saska­toon-based Saskatchewan Mus­tard De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion.

Al­ready, the price of brown-mus­tard seed has risen by a third to 39 Cana­dian cents a pound, up from 29 cents a year ear­lier and the high­est since 2015, ac­cord­ing to data col­lected by Stat Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Ltd.

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