Familles Rurales joins UFC Que Choisir and CLCV in an open letter addressed to the French Prime Minister on March 9, 2023. These three consumer associations are asking to curb the explosion of food prices by ceasing to guarantee a minimum margin of 10% to large-scale distribution.
Madam Prime Minister,
It is the French government’s prerogative to ensure that everyone has access to food that meets their needs. While the objectives stated by several of your ministers to “contain food inflation” may have reassured us, the means proposed to achieve this can only raise questions and even generate a certain amount of disbelief.
Indeed, while the prices of food products have reached, as early as 2022, frightening peaks, the recent conclusion of the commercial negotiations between distributors and the agri-food industry, unfortunately, paves the way for a new explosion of prices in the coming weeks. This prospect is all the more alarming as the consequences of food inflation are already very concrete and worrying, as illustrated by the increasing use of food banks, a true marker of the impoverishment of our fellow citizens.
If these observations imposed a resolute action from your government to bring immediate, durable and strong answers to the soaring food prices, we have to admit that apart from the announcement of a next food voucher – presented on an experimental and localised basis – for the most modest, the solutions that your government proposes to curb prices seem at best without real impact, and could even drive consumers away from a healthy diet in favor of ultra-processed products.
In line with the remarks made by the President of the Republic at the opening of the agriculture show calling on distributors to “make an effort on their margins”, your government merely relies on the goodwill of large-scale distribution to limit its margins (or pretend to do so through purely marketing operations).
Beyond depreciating the public power, we can only underline that this approach consisting in begging from the large surfaces a moderation of prices within the framework of an “anti-inflation quarter” will in no way lead to the labels displaying the most competitive prices possible if the current measure which obliges, since 2019, the distributors to realize a margin of at least 10% on the sale of food products were to be maintained.
Until now, your Government has consistently opposed the removal of this inflationary measure, and simply counterproductive in the current context. This refusal has been mainly motivated by the argument that the end of the increase of the resale loss threshold would decrease the income of our farmers. However, this is a purely fallacious argument since there is an autonomous legislative framework imposing that commercial negotiations between industrialists and distributors on the one hand, and farmers on the other, guarantee the latter a fair remuneration, which we agree with.
In any case, it would be contradictory, not to say misleading, to claim to act to compress prices as much as possible while maintaining a rule that legally prevents the sale of food products at cost price.
If you really want to make the control of food prices a priority, consistency requires you to implement the only measure that will allow a rapid and tangible reduction in prices: the immediate suspension of the increase in the loss leader threshold.
Counting on your determination to really fight against food inflation, we ask you to accept, Madam Prime Minister, the expression of our highest consideration.
Président de l’UFC-Que Choisir
Présidente de Familles Rurales
Président de la CLCV
Read the open letter in French here.