Canadian town cuts the mustard to be the world's condiment capital

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 June, 2013, 5:32am


With its church and main street, Gravelbourg seems like just another Canadian prairie town. But it has a little known claim to fame - as prime producer of the world's mustard seeds.

And growing beneath its placid exterior is a movement to depose France's Dijon as the globe's condiment king.

Canada produces 35 to 40 per cent of the world's mustard seeds, with Gravelbourg at the core of this output.

The mustard seed was introduced in the Canadian province only in the 1940s, five centuries after Dijon in eastern France, which made it famous.

But France's Burgundy region no longer mass produces the seeds and the last big mustard manufacturing plant in Dijon closed in 2008 after being taken over by multinational Unilever.

So Gravelbourg now has the chance to step up and seize mustard glory. The problem is "we sell the raw materials which go elsewhere ... and the benefits also go elsewhere," laments mayor Real Forest, who is searching for investors to help locals kick-start their dreams.

Some have already started getting Gravelbourg's name out.

One local family, for example, started Gravelbourg Gourmet Mustard two years ago, offering a line of condiments made from local harvests. "Our objective was to use local resources," says owner Val Michaud, who started the company with her husband.

It is currently the only mustard maker in the province, but its wares are sold in specialty stores throughout Western Canada, and it is soon slated to expand nationwide and beyond.