French government, retailers agree to ‘anti-inflation quarter’

French government, retailers agree to ‘anti-inflation quarter’ |

Large retailers and the government agreed to commit to a so-called “anti-inflation quarter” to reduce the inflationary trend on everyday products until June, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire announced Monday.

On Monday, the government announced its plan to fight inflation, which reached 14.5% on food products in France in January 2023, according to data from the French statistics institute INSEE.

After a final meeting with retailers, Le Maire launched an “anti-inflation quarter”, during which the French should find “the lowest possible prices on several everyday items”.

Distributors would bear the cost of this measure, which should reduce their margins by “several hundred million euros”, according to the minister.

However, Le Maire’s ministry does not intend to impose a list of products or direct the distributors’ choices.

“I believe in the freedom of trade, we are not going to fix the prices. […] We will simply ensure that the commitments made by the distributors are respected,” the minister explained. Checks will be carried out by the ministry’s services.

For Europe’s largest food retailer, Carrefour, there would mostly be margin cuts “on private labels since it is on these brands that we have the most latitude,” its CEO, Alexandre Lompard, said.

The operation will run until June, when “we will ask the major manufacturers to renegotiate their prices with retailers”, said Le Maire, who does not want “to wait until the end of 2023 for the reduction in wholesale prices to be passed on to retail products”.

For the price negotiations to be totally transparent, the minister announced that he would publish a quarterly “report of the General Inspectorate of Finance on the margins of producers, distributors and farmers” “so that everyone can form their own opinion” to ensure decisions are made “in complete transparency”.

On 27 February, the CEO of the Système U network Dominique Schelcher warned of an additional price increase of “around 10%” in the first half of 2023, on top of the inflation already observed.

Le Maire also announced that “there will be a food voucher for the most modest” households – though such a measure has been repeated for the past year and a half without being implemented.

While waiting for it to be implemented, “an experiment will be launched […] in the coming months,” the minister said without providing further details.

(Davide Basso |


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