French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire stated that 75 food producers were pledged to lower prices, following weeks of pressure from the government for companies to stabilize food prices.
Le Maire highlighted that the 75 producers committed to index prices to falling wholesale costs in a meeting on Thursday, and will also submit lists to the ministry next week of products that they will discount on the shelf in the short term.
“All products whose prices on the wholesale markets are falling must fall in July,” the minister said in an interview on BFM TV on Friday.
He added: “I’m thinking of pasta — the price of wheat is going down — I’m thinking of oils, I’m thinking of poultry, I’m thinking of cereals, I’m thinking of animal feed and a number of products which will be sent to me next week.”
The official also underlined that the authorities would conduct checks to ensure the producers stuck to their commitments. “Trust is good, verification is even better.”
Inflationary concerns are taking center stage in France as food prices surged 14.1% year-on-year in May, closely aligning with the Eurozone average. This increase has positioned food as the primary contributor to inflation in the region, overtaking energy and causing consternation among politicians and consumer advocacy groups. Notable examples include olive oil prices, which have increased by 25%, and the cost of eggs, now 20% more expensive.
However, some authorities and retail industry representatives have voiced suspicions that food producers may be exploiting the inflationary uptick to inflate their profit margins. They argue that producers are raising prices beyond the necessary adjustments to offset increased energy and commodity costs.
These concerns were a point of discussion at the European Central Bank’s April meeting. Despite the sharp decline in commodity prices, consumer food costs remained persistently high. The bank suggested that widening profit margins might be impeding the reduction of inflation.