Expect soaring prices and shortages when it comes to foie gras, warned Jean-Jacques Caspari, managing director of Rougie (a brand of the world’s largest foie gras maker Euralis). Due to the outbreak of the highly virulent H5N1 bird flu virus last November, Caspari estimates that the foie gras industry still has 12 to 18 months to full recovery. This does not bode well for fans of the fatty and somewhat controversial (see below) delicacy.
“We can expect an increase in the price of foie gras of between 10 and 20 percent,” noted Caspari, who added that this year would see a 25 percent drop in production. Exports are also expected to drop from 4,560 tonnes in 2015 to 3,160 tonnes this year, which translates to an estimated loss of 270 million euros ($300 million) for the industry.
While a potential cause of despair for France (which usually produces a whopping 75 percent of the world’s foie gras), this may be good news for rival producers like Hungary and Bulgaria. The latter are now expected to make inroads where France has halted export.
Even sans the current supply issue, foie gras has not been without controversy, with the delicacy a battleground between campaigners of animal rights and defenders of French traditional gourmet fare. Regardless, French abattoirs will be allowed to continue producing foie gras come August 16, when new force-fed birds (that’s how foie gras is produced) will be available for slaughter.