Health and animal welfare concerns notwithstanding, the French are still crazy about foie gras, and they aren’t the only ones.
France exported close to 2,500 tons of foie gras in 2014, according to the latest report from the French trade organization focusing on the product, Cifog (Comité interprofessionnel des palmipèdes à foie gras).
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French consumers still have a healthy appetite for the ingredient, which saw a 3% increase in sales in French supermarkets over 2014.
Out of all French households, 45.5% percent purchased foie gras last year, compared to 44.4% in 2013.
Not just for the French
Foreign foodies have experienced the delicate taste and melt-in-the-mouth texture of foie gras and are eager for more.
In 2014, the Cifog observed a record trade surplus of €57.3 million ($60.8 million), up 10% from the previous year. Foie gras exports rose by €2.8 million ($3.0 million) over the period.
This rise in demand was driven in large part by Asian markets, where consumers are rapidly developing a taste for the French delicacy.
Foie gras exports to Vietnam surged 268% in 2014, while those to South Korea jumped 139%. Sales to Hong Kong rose 28%, while demand in Thailand edged up 5%.
While Asian foodies may be driving the rise in global demand, Europeans are still the leading foie gras consumers by far.
The top export market for French foie gras in 2014 was Spain, which spent €24 million on the product (+3%). In second place was Belgium, where the market for French foie gras rose 20% to €19 million.
In 2015, regulation changes are expected to further bolster global demand. In Taiwan, where only canned foie gras was legal for import until December 2014, the product can now be imported and sold as raw lobes.
In January, a federal judge struck down California’s foie gras ban, giving restaurateurs the greenlight to put it back on their menus.