Why France Is Experiencing A Foie Gras Shortage

France's foie gras industry is facing a major crisis, sparking a severe shortage of the delicacy throughout the country. The culprit? According to CNN, a bird flu epidemic, which has swept across Europe over the past several months, is to blame for the dwindling supply.

Consisting of the fattened liver of a duck or goose that has been force-fed, foie gras is a notoriously controversial ingredient. As the Spruce Eats explains, to make foie gras, ducks or geese are fed a corn-based diet via a feeding tube, in a process known as gavage. The practice has divided food lovers and has even been banned in some places due to animal cruelty concerns, but in France, the traditional methods for making foie gras are protected by law (via the Guardian).

However, the current foie gras shortage may force French restaurateurs to use less of the luxurious ingredient, which, per the Spruce Eats, is often seared and served whole or used in a terrine or mousse.

How the bird flu epidemic is affecting France's foie gras supply

According to CNN, the current bird flu epidemic began in November 2021. Since then, the French Agriculture Ministry has been forced to kill as many as 16 million birds in an effort to halt the virus' spread. As a result, the country is expecting this year's foie gras output will drop by up to 50%. The epidemic has left French chefs unable to access the delicacy, while producers consider alternatives — such as smaller packages — in an effort to combat scarcity.

This is not the first year that France's foie gras industry has struggled. As Reuters reported in March, this will be the third year in a row that the foie gras production has fallen. Bird flus, which are typically brought to farms by wild birds, are also not new to the country's producers. However, this epidemic has proven to be far more serious than in past years (via CNN).

Marie-Pierre Pé, the director of a French committee dedicated to foie gras producers, explained to CNN, "This number is unprecedented for France, which had never been exposed to a crisis of such scale."