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Supply Chain

French Foie Gras Back On Menus After Bird Flu Spares Ducks

By Reuters
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French Foie Gras Back On Menus After Bird Flu Spares Ducks

A jump in foie gras output this winter as France was virtually spared from bird flu that had ravaged flocks in previous years will allow chefs to have enough of the delicacy when visitors rush to Paris for the Olympics, producers said.

France has been among the countries worst affected by an unprecedented global spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza, commonly called bird flu, that has disrupted supply of poultry meat and eggs and sent prices rocketing in many parts of the globe in the past years.

This prompted the government to launch a campaign in October to vaccinate all ducks against bird flu. Ducks are among the most sensitive species to the virus and the most likely to carry it without being noticed, causing higher dissemination risks.

France, by far the world's largest producer of foie gras, only experienced 10 outbreaks of bird flu since it started vaccination, against 304 outbreaks by the same time last year, official data showed.

Fewer outbreaks allowed producers to raise foie gras output for the first time this decade in 2023, with industry group Cifog estimating the gain at 20% to 10,000 tonnes.

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'A Reliable Producer'

"We are once again becoming a reliable producer in terms of supply and quality," Cifog director Marie-Pierre Pe told Reuters.

"The challenge is to put duck breast and French foie gras back on restaurant menus, particularly in the run-up to the big event that is the Olympic Games where the whole world will come to France. We will be able to meet it," she added.

About 40% of foie gras sold in France is consumed in restaurants, Pe said.

French foie gras' main competitors are Bulgaria and Romania which have continued to detect bird flu outbreaks this winter.

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Most ducks in France are reared to produce foie gras, which is made from the livers of either geese or ducks that have been fattened with grain, usually by force-feeding.

Prices could fall from record highs this year but only slightly as demand remains strong, costs high and stocks very low, Pe said.

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