Anti-inflation district: everything you need to know about the operation launched this Wednesday in supermarkets

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This Wednesday March 15 marks the launch in French supermarkets of the “anti-inflation district” operation. Each brand will offer a basket of food products “at the lowest possible price”. Explanations.

In an attempt to extinguish the fire of inflation on food products, the government is proposing an “anti-inflation quarter” in French supermarkets. The operation begins on Wednesday 15 March and will end on 15 June.

A basket of food products at the “lowest possible price”

The commercial operation which, far from imposing an anti-inflation basket controlled by the government on supermarkets, aims to offer, according to Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, “the lowest possible price” on a selection of “hundreds” of products . Their choice will be made by the distributors.

It will cost large-scale retailers “several hundred million euros”, according to the minister who signed the agreement on Monday 6 March in Bercy in the presence of the main representatives of the sector (Carrefour, Intermarché, Système U, Casino, Aldi…), with the notable exception of the market share leader, E.Leclerc.

A tricolor logo to make no mistake

These products will be identified by a tricolor “anti-inflation quarter” logo. According to the distributors, these commercial operations will mainly concern own-brand products, i.e. those which, such as Reflets de France, Marque Repère, Marque U, are owned by the brands and do not fall within the scope of the negotiations. with the producers.

Promotional operations already in progress

Some brands have not waited to launch their own commercial operations, aimed at attracting or retaining their customers in an environment where consumers are looking for low prices or promotions.

Initially the project promoted by the minister delegated in particular to Commerce Olivia Grégoire concerned an “anti-inflation basket” that would allow consumers to compare prices between brands, but large-scale distribution had slowed down. The only exception: System U, which at the beginning of February had chosen a basket of 150 products and declared on Monday that it was “the only one on the market” to carry out an operation at cost price, i.e. sacrificing as many margins as the law.

Price controls in supermarkets

Invited to France Info this Monday 13 March, Bruno Le Maire assures that “checks” will be carried out to “verify that this price drop is not just a game of cap and display” and that it is precisely the distributors who cut their margins to guarantee these reduced prices for consumers. The economy minister will meet Michel-Edouard Leclerc this Wednesday, he who criticizes the “fourth anti-inflation” operation. “I want Leclerc to participate in the operation”, insists the minister.

New negotiations between distributors and producers

In exchange for this agreement, the distributors obtained from Bercy that at the end of this “anti-inflation quarter” the commercial negotiations with the suppliers of the agro-industry, which ended on 1st March, be relaunched.

“We will reopen commercial negotiations with the major producers so that the drop in wholesale prices we are seeing on the markets” can “translate” to the shelves as well, explained the Economy Minister. The negotiation, which ended badly on 1 March, led to an average increase of around 10% in the prices paid by supermarkets to producers to take into account the increase in their production costs (energy, transport, raw materials, packaging, etc.) . ), according to both sides.

Criticisms of the effectiveness of the measure

In an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne, the UFC-Que Choisir, Rural Families and Housing Consumption Framework of Life (CLCV) challenges the executive: “Your government is happy to rely on the goodwill of supermarkets to limit own margins. This approach will in no way result in labels displaying the most competitive prices possible.” At issue, according to the associations, is the Egalim law, passed in recent years to improve farmers’ income. A text that obliges distributors to sell food products at least 10% more expensive than the price at which they bought them. The “efforts on the margins” requested by Emmanuel Macron are therefore “impossible”, complains to TF1 François Carlier, general delegate of the CLCV. “The resale-at-loss threshold system forces distributors to pass on inflation.”

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