Food inflation: After 15 years of low prices, France is changing times


Pushing the trolley through the aisles of a supermarket has not been a cakewalk for several months. In the coming weeks, the operation is likely to be even more depressing, especially for the most modest households, for whom food weighs heavily on the budget. Inflation, 12.6% in December 2022, as the latest figure from INSEE, will not drop. For Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy who is in a hurry to get out of “whatever the cost”, the rise in prices on the shelves is “The main subject” of the new mandate. a point “extreme vigilance”, he pointed out during his vows to the media. Especially since green growth and relocations will automatically push prices up.

Commercial negotiations under pressure

For food and consumer products, such as laundry detergent or shampoo, the price increases negotiated between manufacturers and large retailers for 2023 are considerable, about 20% on average according to the head of System U , Dominique Schelcher. They explain the unprecedented tensions that have shaken, in recent days, the start of the traditional annual price negotiations. The makers there reminded aloud that they had not entered yet “in the hard”. The cost of certain agricultural raw materials, various categories of packaging products and modes of transportation has stopped increasing, but the impact of the energy crisis on their production costs is yet to come. A large number of companies receive electricity supply through a fixed price contract for a contractual period. Most of these contracts expired at the end of 2022 or will expire in 2023. For companies whose contract is indexed to the market price, the bill will soar.

The tools to advocate for consumers, farmers, manufacturers and distributors already exist

Moved by the call of the bakers during the galette de l’Élysée, Emmanuel Macron asked that a gesture be made in favor of companies with fewer than 9 workers. They had “A guaranteed automatic rate” funded by the state. SMEs will have access “a damping device”. Large groups will not be able to count on state support to benefit from better rates. Despite everything, he made a gesture in his direction by proposing the reworking of the legislative framework for commercial negotiations. The bill of the Renaissance deputy Frédéric Descrozaille, voted unanimously this week, will not pass in the annals of the Assembly. It should only have a limited effect on the price of the tags. “The tools to defend consumers, farmers, manufacturers and distributors already exist, underlines Olivier Andrault, UFC-Que Choisir expert. Just enforcing the law. »

opposing forces

Bercy has been working for a few days on a measure presented as an anti-inflation basket. Distributors would be invited to choose 20 referrals that they could offer at a reduced price for an as yet undefined period. Each sign would compose the basket as it wishes. “Choosing 20 products when they are all affected is just a trick to lull the consumer”, outraged Olivier Andrault.

On the one hand, global commodity prices are in a slump, on the other, energy price increases are ahead of us.

For Denis Ferrand, CEO of Rexecode, the inflationary shock is currently divided between two opposing forces. “On the one hand, global commodity prices are in a recession phase, on the other hand, energy price increases are ahead”, formula Whatever the price consequences of the current trade negotiations, measuring the real evolution of food inflation between now and the end of the year is almost impossible.

The French have begun to change their habits

“The prices that leave the farms, therefore upstream, are still 30% higher than in November 2019”, assures the economist. In his eyes, it should be untangled “causal tree”, but in the end everyone will have to take their share of the increase. Fueled since Covid by various aid measures, including the energy tariff shield, the French realized in the second half that they had decidedly changed their era, after fifteen years of deflation and broken prices.

They began to change their habits by reducing the contents of their cart. They sacrifice their purchases of organic products, meat and fish and favor private labels, which discounters have made their specialty. “Now they practice devaluation: they learn to buy cheaper, look for promotions, reduce their volumes”, describes Gaëlle Le Floch, Kantar’s specialist consumer goods marketing director. “Purchasing power remains their number one concern”, she adds. The coming months could give way to the search for waste and recycling, two safe and… sustainable values.

Source : Le JDD

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