Mustard Shortages are Driving Prices Up

Mustard is among the most popular condiments in the world, enjoyed in diverse dishes from Indian fish curries to German pretzels to American hot dogs. While the golden sauce is an essential pantry item in most US homes, global producers warn that the mustard aisle may soon be empty. Dijon mustard prices have already skyrocketed by 75% in 20221 with a potential global shortage on the horizon.
What’s Behind Mustard Price Hikes?
Brown mustard seeds are essential for producing Dijon mustard and other spicy varieties of the condiment, while yellow mustard seeds are the main ingredient in mild American mustard sauce. Canada, the world’s largest producer of brown mustard seeds, experienced a severe drought in 2021 that reduced its mustard seed harvest by 50%2. France’s local mustard seed production was also affected by climatic changes in the Burgundy region over the past year.
Russia and Ukraine are two major mustard seed suppliers after Canada, and the conflict in the area has damaged crop yields, disrupted supply chains, and raised mustard export prices.
To make matters worse, the food packaging industry is feeling the effects of the ongoing global supply chain crises, with glass bottle prices up by 80% in Germany3—one of the world’s largest mustard producers.
Can Biotechnology Save the Mustard Industry?
The climatic factors affecting mustard seed production in Canada and France impact many other major food crops worldwide, including mint, oats, bananas, coffee, and avocados. These crops are sensitive to extreme weather, which can disrupt seed germination, causing reduced yields and lower-quality produce.
Biotechnology may help us mitigate the effects of climate change on the global food supply, including on mustard and other condiments, by developing more weather-resistant crops. Gene editing is an agricultural innovation that involves modifying the genetic makeup of a plant. Producers can use this technology to make crops more drought- and disease-resistant, capable of producing more food, and resilient through poor soil quality.
Spicy Mustard Substitutes and Synthetic Flavoring Options
Mustard gets its characteristic spicy flavor and pungent aroma from a compound called Allyl Isothiocyanate (AITC), also known as Mustard Oil. Crushing mustard seeds causes the plant cells to rupture, releasing an enzyme that accelerates the formation of AITC, enhancing the mustard-like flavor. Synthetic AITC does not require mustard seeds for production and may be a viable alternative to natural mustard oil as a food flavoring.
Manufacturers can add AITC directly to food products to increase heat and spiciness in the flavor profile while extending the product’s shelf life. Allyl isothiocyanate has anti-microbial properties, making it a valuable preservative in many packaged foods.
Other substitutes for mustard are horseradish and wasabi, both of which contain AITC and create the same taste sensation as hot mustard. Most American yellow mustard sauces contain turmeric, which has similar flavors to mustard without the spicy kick.
Mustard is an international favorite and an essential condiment in many cultures, but its current supply is under threat due to economic, political, and environmental factors. Conflict, climate change, and ongoing supply chain crises cause raw material shortages that drive up mustard prices. The food industry must adopt biotechnological innovations to maintain and improve food security.
Advanced Biotech is a trusted supplier of food flavoring ingredients, including synthetic and natural AITC and mustard extract. Please contact us for more information.