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While avian flu threatens, will the French be able to serve foie gras during the holidays?

At the leading producer (France) and the world’s leading consumer (again France), terrines, preserves, tea towels or foie gras cutlets will once again be taken by storm in supermarkets and grocery stores by the end of the year. year. Problem: avian flu, which had already affected poultry farms – including ducks – from November 2020 to April 2021, is back.

Since November 5, animals have been re-confined across the country, in order to limit the spread of the virus after the announcement of confirmed cases in the north. From there to fear a shortage, and therefore a rise in prices? 20 Minutes make the point.

Unsold in stock

Foie gras comes in many forms and storage times vary. “Processed foie gras, in a jar or in a can, can be kept for years,” explains Marie-Pierre Pé, director of the Interprofessional Committee for Foie Gras Palmipeds (Cifog). Why talk about conservation? Because the closure of restaurants during lockdowns, between 2020 and 2021, allowed producers to accumulate unsold items. “There is no shadow on the board concerning the stock of foie gras in jars or canned in stores”, assures Marie-Pierre Pé.

Julie *, saleswoman at the Comtesse du Barry delicatessen, in Rouen, certainly mentions “a shortage of stock from May to September on fresh products”, in other words half-cooked livers. “But we are ready for the holidays,” she says.

“For raw foie gras, there will be pressure on prices”

So if there is no concern about stocks of processed products, there shouldn’t be concern about their prices. Hubert Garer, breeder and producer of foie gras on a farm in Lot-et-Garonne, confirms that prices will not increase in his shop by the end of the year. But he will be forced to inflate them in 2022. “Prices are climbing everywhere: energy, raw materials … We breeders pay more for corn and wheat which are used to force-feed our ducks, so we will have to increase a little.” As for Julie, she indicates that the prices of her prepared foie gras “have been stable for several years”.

However, there may be a slight pressure on the price of fresh (raw) foie gras. “For consumers who prepare their terrine, like every year, there will be a little tension,” continues Marie-Pierre Pé. Because the strong demand automatically generates a price increase “of about 10%”, according to the director. However, the populations of ducks in farms have decreased following the containment measures, and production has therefore decreased. “We will surely go from 10 to 12%”, she explains to 20 Minutes.

The incomprehension of small breeders

On the epidemic side, if the current outbreak in the North spreads, it would be the fourth wave of avian flu in France since 2016. And small and large farmers are passing the buck on the responsibility for this situation. “It is the industrial system that diffuses the virus, and the transport of poultry”, defends Hubert Garer. “It is also they who put pressure so that we, small breeders, do not benefit from any more exemption”. A derogation which could exempt farms with less than 1,500 birds from confining.

But “the scientists are clear,” says Marie-Pierre Pé. Sheltering poultry is essential to prevent the virus from infecting ducks ”. And to add: “the anger of the small producers, I hear it. But it is easier for them to adapt inexpensively to the measures than the managers of industrial farms ”.

* First name has been changed


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