Why the French Galette des Rois is getting more expensive

At this time of year, there is nothing the French love more than to serve up a nice Galette des Rois. Unfortunately though a multitude of factors mean that this speciality is much more expensive in 2022.

A French Galette des Rois is typically served at this time of year.
A French Galette des Rois is typically served at this time of year. Unfortunately, the price is rising. (Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP)

Many people in France enjoy a Galette des Rois around this time of year. 

If you’re not familiar with the dish, it is basically a frangipane tart made with pastry, butter, ground almonds and a few extra ingredients that will stretch the already bursting waistline for one final time before the January dieting begins.

It is traditionally served on Epiphany – a Christian festival celebrated on January 6th and has many fun traditions attached.

READ ALSO Galette des rois: What you need to know about France’s royal tart

Aficionados will have noticed that the price of these cholesterol bombs has shot up since last year, in some cases, by as much as €2. 

The reason for this inflation are rising butter prices. 

The Eurex derivatives market showed that one tonne of butter cost €4,600 in October and is now close to €6,000. Even though prices are still a fair way off the great butter crisis of 2017 when prices reached close to €7,000 per tonne, bakeries are still struggling and this has a knock-on effect on consumers.

So what is driving these increased prices? 

There are multiple factors, essentially boiling down to supply and demand, that mean the price of butter is increasing. 

Demand is higher than ever before, not just in France, but internationally. A quarter of butter produced in France is exported to other EU countries. And China imported 20 percent more butter from the European Union in 2021 than the year before. 

Supply is struggling to keep up. Many dairy farmers prefer to use milk for cheese production as it is more profitable. As much as 30 percent of dairy production in France ends up being used for pizzas or as hamburger cheese to be sold in shops and restaurants. 

The spring and summer of 2021 was also unseasonably cold and rainy meaning that there was not enough good quality hay for cows to eat, resulting in lower milk production. Overall, last year saw a 2 percent fall in overall milk production in France compared to the year before. 

Read More France faces Christmas cheese shortage

Another factor is that despite enormous government subsidies, the agricultural sector in France is struggling. Over the past for years, the number of dairy cows has decreased by around 250,000. 

All of this has seen the price of butter, a key ingredient of Galette des Rois, soar. 

Does this mean other products will become more expensive? 

Logically, it would follow that other products where butter is a key ingredient, such as croissants, will become more expensive. This was certainly the case during the butter shortage of 2017 – although the crisis then was deeper than the current one. 

If you haven’t already felt the price of goods at the boulangerie increase, it could be because bakers are often aware of upcoming shortfalls. 

“We heard about the rise [of butter prices] in September, so we decided to stock up. I bought two times more butter than normal,” said Bruno Struillou, a baker in Plobannalec-Lesconil. 

“If we manage to sell lots of Galettes in January, let’s say 10 percent more than normal, that will compensate the price rises. Otherwise, we will have to increase the price a little bit on other buttery products in February and March,” he told France Bleu

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Late fees, fines and charges: What you risk by missing French tax deadlines

The deadlines for the annual French tax declaration are upon us, but what are the penalties if you either miss the deadline or fail to file your return at all? We take a look at the sanctions.

Late fees, fines and charges: What you risk by missing French tax deadlines

The annual Déclaration des revenues – income tax declaration – involves virtually everyone in France filling out a form giving detailed information on their income to French tax authorities.

If you live in France, it’s almost certain that you will have to complete this – even if you’re a salaried employee and your tax has already been deducted at source, or if all your income comes from outside France (eg a pension received from the UK or USA).

There are only a very few exemptions to the requirement to fill out the tax declaration and they are listed here

Declarations for the 2021 tax year opened in April 2022 and the deadline is either late May or early June, depending on where you live – find the full calendar here

But what happens if you miss the deadline?

For most people there is a staggered system of late charges.

If you are less than 30 days late your overall tax bill can be increased by up to a maximum of 10 percent.

Once you receive a notice of late payment, the overall bill can increase by up to 20 percent, or 40 percent if you have still not filed within 30 days of receiving the later payment notice.

You will also be charged interest on late payments.

What if I don’t pay income tax in France?

If you have no taxable income in France – for example your only income is a pension from another country – then you still have to fill in the declaration.

If you file late the increases cannot be applied, since your tax bill is €0, but you can instead be liable for a late fee of €150.

What if I have exceptional circumstances?

If you know that you will not be able to file in time, you can ask the tax office for a remise gracieuse (remission) in order to avoid late fees and penalties.

You will need to outline your reasons for not being able to file in time and while there isn’t a list of accepted excuses, the reason must be exceptional circumstances such as serious illness or the death or a loved one.

If you have previously missed deadlines, the tax office will be less likely to accept your request.

The request should be made by June 29th either in person at the tax office or through the messaging system in your online tax page.

What if you don’t declare everything?

If you have not declared income which is subsequently discovered by authorities, the increase in your overall tax bill can be up to 80 percent – the maximum penalty is usually reserved for people who have deliberately tried to hide parts of their income.

We have a full guide to what you need to declare HERE, but the basic rule of thumb is that you need to declare everything, even if it is not taxable in France, eg income from a rental property in another country.

France has dual taxation agreements with countries including the UK and USA so if you have already paid tax on income in another country you won’t need to pay more tax in France – but you still need to declare it.

What about foreign bank accounts?

Another item that frequently catches out foreigners in France is overseas bank accounts.

If you have any non-French bank accounts, you need to list them on your tax declaration, even if they are dormant or only have a very small amount of money in them.

This also applies to any foreign investment schemes you have, such as life insurance policies. 

The penalty for not listing accounts is between €1,500 and €10,000 and that applies for each account you fail to declare. 

What if I made a mistake on my declaration?

In 2018 France formally enshrined the ‘right to make mistakes’, giving people the right to go back and correct their declarations without attracting a penalty.

So if you realise you have missed something off or added the wrong info you can either go back into your online declaration and correct it or, if you file on paper, visit your local tax office.

However the ‘right to make a mistake’ does not extend to late filing.

What if I didn’t make a declaration?

The French tax system is often confusing for foreigners, with many people wrongly assuming that if they are not liable for tax in France then they don’t need to fill in the declaration.

For people who persist in not making the declaration, even after the arrival of the notice of default, tax authorities can make an estimate, based on earnings and lifestyle, and present the bill.

However for new arrivals in France it’s likely that they will not be registered with the tax office and will therefore never receive a notice. 

In this instance it’s always better to come clean – if you have made a genuine mistake and you approach the tax office  (rather than waiting for them to watch up with you) you will usually be dealt with quite leniently. 

How can I get help?

If you’re struggling with the system, there are ways to get help.

The tax office has an English language information page here, and a dedicated helpline for internationals on + 33 1 72 95 20 42.

You can also visit your local tax office, every town has one and you can simply turn up without appointment and ask for help (although if the office is small and your query is complicated you may need to make an appointment for the full discussion). Surprising as it may sound, employees at the tax office are generally pretty friendly and helpful and can guide you through the forms you need to fill in.

If your tax affairs are complicated and/or your French is at beginner level, it may be better to hire an accountant to ensure that everything is in order. You can find some tips on getting professional help HERE.