Castelnaudary: lack of duck, new recipes in the land of the cassoulet

the essential
Shortage of duck, increase in the price of raw materials… The situation is complicated in the country of the cassoulet. Canners compete in imagination to manage.

“The situation is complicated, yes,” admits Gérard Semat, head of Maison Escudier and Audary, cassoulet producers in Castelnaudary. Already, a few months ago, the canners of Chaurie were worried about the increase in the price of raw materials and the shortage of duck, victim of the avian flu that decimated the farms, particularly in the Vendée, a large producing region.
“Since then, if the situation has not worsened, it has not improved,” said the businessman, stressing however that the crisis affects the entire sector. The foie gras, “too expensive” has been eliminated from the gala meals of the Cassoulet Festival, the duck breast, for its part, has disappeared from the restaurant menus… We are out of it!
As for the canners… “We’re trying to get back on our feet. We highlight the pork cassoulet. A quality cassoulet too, but with different pieces of meat”. As for knowing when the situation will return to normal… “It is difficult to say, but in my opinion, it will not be before 2023. Some are moving forward with the start of the school year… Last March, we expected June! »

And if only the duck existed…

In fact, it is the entire poultry industry that is affected by this damn flu. Even the turkey is nowhere to be found! He wants to believe in a way out of the lasting crisis.“They are testing vaccines and doing analyses”, observes G. Sémat who does not give up and prefers to call himself combative. “We find solutions, we adapt to recover and if we don’t have a cassoulet, we offer something else.”
The solution does not lie elsewhere in Europe, since duck-producing countries such as Bulgaria or Poland are also affected by the epizootic. The solution, therefore, lies in other preparations such as prepared dishes in which our canners stand out. The shortage of duck is not the only concern here. Commodities (cardboard, glass, steel, packaging) that are rapidly surfing the top of the price wave also pose a problem. “It has been stabilizing for some time, but at a high level.”
The bean we keep our fingers crossed for remains in the cassoulet capital of the world. Maison Escudier, like other canners and restaurateurs, only uses the famous Castelnaudary bean crowned with its PGI: “You have to wait for the harvest”. As for the cassoulet party, only the health crisis could play spoilsport because to feed all the “festéjaïres”, “there will be a duck”, promises the commercial manager. Here at least it is reassuring.

“that takes time”

At Escourrou, another jewel in Chaurien, “we have a little duck but not for everything,” says Jean-Yves Pradier. “There are for preserves and jars at the moment; As for the terrines, when we don’t have duck, we make them with confit knuckle and let the customer know. Duck? Some weeks we get it, others we don’t. We continue with our usual suppliers, producers in Occitania. When they have some, they send us some. In short, we fight.
In terms of containers, it is also complicated. We can no longer have boxes of 2 parts but we have 3 or 4 parts. As for the jars, we are out of service for a while and then we deliver again, it is very irregular, ”he continues. “We make cassoulet with goose confit, we are not many. There we have the box but it is the raw material that is missing. For the 2 parts of ducks, we have the duck but not the container. It’s very complicated, there’s always something missing.” “That takes time.”
At Belle chaurienne we also adapt. The duck cassoulet is put on hold in favor of the pork cassoulet, here too. Even with a new “meat enriched” recipe. New recipes are also the “B” plan of the Arterris group box, which offers a range of dishes prepared in jars of almost 600 grams, 2 portions. Chickpeas, vegetables and meatballs and even crispy aubergine… We innovate, we renew ourselves, we offer new dishes and the customer likes it.
And waiting for the return of the duck…

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