No party, no foie: Covid threatens foie gras sector
Paris, Dec 12 (efe-epa).- Most years, it is difficult to find a Christmas dinner table in France without foie gras, a staple yuletide delicacy. But this year, the sector, which makes three quarters of its sales between November and December, fears that things will not be so joyful.
The industry has already received a potential coup de grace: restaurants, which account for half of sales, are all closed, placing the sector in a state of emergency. What’s more, there aren’t any tourists bringing cans of foie home with them to boost sales.
“The threats come from several places, we have to know how to deal with them. Official assistance is essential for us,” the director of the Interprofessional Committee on Foie Gras (CIFOG), Marie-Pierre Pé, told Efe.
The reaction has not been long in coming. In specialized stores and large surfaces, producers now offer smaller portions than the traditional blocks, bearing in mind the government’s rules on reduced numbers at dinner tables for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
The government has also lifted some restrictions on promotions, a measure designed to favor agricultural and livestock producers, but which hurts foie gras, which has very concentrated and competitive sales at a specific time of year.
Before Covid-19 hit, the sector was already reeling from a bout of avian flu and restrictions imposed on imports in some of its most established markets.
Between 2016 and 2018, estimated losses were around 540 million euros due to avian flu, forcing the slaughter of entire duck farms. In addition, significant investments were made to adapt the corrals to prevent new waves of the disease.
Avian flu has struck again this season, but so far in a more limited way, and they have learned the lessons of the 2016 crisis.
“We know how to act against the avian flu, the damages are less, we have weapons that we did not have,” Pé says. EFE-EPA