France Bird flu hits French foie gras industry
The latest outbreaks come as French foie gras producers approach the busiest time of year; foie gras, made from the engorged livers of force-fed ducks and geese, is a traditional staple of le reveillon, the Christmas Eve meal, and accounts for about one-third of annual sales. In 2015, an outbreak of bird flu that hit producers in the same region led to a drop of 25% in production and losses of an estimated €500m for the industry.
French producers had hoped to recover their bird-flu free status on 3 December, but the new outbreak means the country will not be cleared for at least 90 days. While most French-produced foie gras is consumed in France, the resurgence of the virus means it cannot be exported outside the European Union. In 2015 France exported almost 5,000 t – out of 19,200 t produced – to Japan. Marie-Pierre Pé, from the foie gras producers group Cifog, warned prices could be 10% higher this Christmas.