Food companies in France agree to lower prices, with government willing to ‘name and shame’ those who don’t comply
Some 75 major food companies have pledged to lower the prices of hundreds of food products in France from July and will face financial penalties if they fail to comply, the country’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said in an interview with the French broadcaster BFM TV.
Following a meeting with food industry representatives, the minister said food manufacturers had agreed to bring their prices down earlier than expected, as wholesale prices have started to fall for some products.
Prices are expected to be cut by between 2% and 10% said Le Maire, adding that pasta, poultry, and vegetable oil will be some of the products seeing a reduction. Beef, pork and milk prices however would not be lowered, due to wholesale costs still being high.
The full list of affected products is expected to be finalised this week, and the anti-fraud body, General Directorate for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF), plans to conduct regular checks in supermarkets to ensure prices are going down.
The minister also told BFM TV he would not be afraid to ‘name and shame’ those who don’t comply with the latest measures. “If one of these 75 food companies continues to profit and doesn’t play their part in tackling inflation, their name will be revealed to the public,” he said.
While Le Maire did not name any of the 75 companies, Unilever told Reuters it had agreed to bring its food prices down in France from next month.
Food inflation in France soared to a new record of 16% in March, easing slightly to 14% in May.
Earlier this year, the French government asked retailers to bring prices down on a selection of food items of their choice from April to June. Several retailers have since announced they will continue to follow this measure until the end of the year.
Elsewhere in Europe, governments are also introducing price reduction measures. While Spain’s scrapping of the 4% VAT on staple foods was due to end later this month, the Minister for Economy, Nadia Calviño has said the government will not reintroduce the added cost until food prices have become “more suitable.” Portugal also removed VAT from essential goods in March, as part of its broader anti-inflation package.
Hungary, which has seen some of the highest food inflation levels in the European Union, has also asked large retailers to bring in price cuts for 20 basic food items, including poultry.
Other countries like Italy however are refraining from introducing such regulations, choosing instead to strengthen price monitoring by working more closely with its 20 regions.