US could run out of mustard because of climate change

Drought and heatwaves in Canada have created a mustard seed shortage

Ethan Freedman
Climate Reporter, New York
Wednesday 22 June 2022 17:39 BST
California drought, heat will impact crop imports

Global supplies of mustard are in jeopardy due to a mustard seed shortage linked to the climate crisis.

Drought and heatwaves last year in central Canada, one of the world’s key mustard seed growing regions, reduced the harvest — creating a dearth of supplies that’s now rippling through mustard producers, CBC reports.

France is now experiencing shortages of Dijon mustard, and there are concerns that shortages could soon spread to other parts of the world, the Toronto Star reports.

Last summer, much of Canada’s Prairie region — places like Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba — experienced severe drought, according to the Canadian Drought Monitor. Additionally, parts of this mustard growing-region were hit by the “heat dome” event that smashed temperature records across the northwest United States and western Canada.

Less mustard was also planted last year than normal, CBC adds, contributing to the problem. In total, mustard seed production in Canada dropped from around 135 kilotonnes in the 2019-2020 season to a forecasted 71 kilotonnes in the 2021-2022 season, according to the Canadian government.

Both drought and heatwaves are expected to become more common due to the climate crisis, according to the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

As the world gets two degrees Celsius hotter than the pre-20th century climate, heatwaves that once happened every 10 years would occur almost six times as often and be 2.7C hotter, the IPCC says. Droughts that once occurred every 10 years would happen more than twice as often and get drier.

A French mustard producer told The Guardian that in addition to trouble in Canada, poor harvests in Burgundy, France, (home to the city of Dijon) and the war in Ukraine have also dampened seed supplies, since both Ukraine and Russia also produce mustard seed.

Seed prices, as well as the cost of packaging materials like glass and lids, have even been going up in France recently, France24 reports.

Recently, the manufacturers of the popular sriracha hot sauce also announced that there will be shortages this summer after weather issues have hampered the necessary supply of chili peppers. Axios reports that the company sources their peppers from Mexico, which has experienced serious drought recently.

The IPCC has warned that as the climate crisis grows, the consequences could put food security in jeopardy for many people.

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