Supermarkets in France cap prices during coronavirus lockdown

Supermarkets in France cap prices during coronavirus lockdown
Some supermarkets will cap the price on certain items on their shelves during the coronavirus lockdown. Photo: AFP
Some French supermarkets have vowed to stem price increases by temporarily capping the price on key products found on their shelves.

Major operators like Intermarché, Leclerc and Carrefour have announced that they will take action against price increases on groceries during the lockdown period in France.

Intermarché was first in announcing that it will freeze the price on 10,000 products (nearly two thirds of the total) until May 15th. Leclerc has capped the price on 4,000 products until the end of the lockdown period. Carrefour today said it would issue similar restrictions on a list of 500 products.

The country's supermarkets saw their profits soar as, just after the government ordered most of the country's businesses to temporarily shut down their activities, people flocked to to stock up on pasta, toilet paper and other key items they feared might soon be on shortage.

Wile a shortage has not occurred, supermarkets' sales figures continued to surge as the government soon ordered the closing down of all food markets (bar some exceptions announced later).

Since the food markets closed, supermarkets have seen their sales increase by 31 percent, according to Le Parisien

At the same time, selection has narrowed and prices have increased, with many people noticing that their weekly shop is suddenly a lot more expensive.

One of the reasons is that the government has decided that, to support the country’s agriculture businesses, French products should be prioritised. Key products like fruit and veg have therefore gotten more expensive.

“From the moment we decided to prioritise French products, which are more expensive, there were inevitably price increases on these products,”  the President of the Federation for trade and distribution, Jacques Creyssel, told Le Parisien.

“But this is part of a collective national effort,” he added.

The supermarkets that have announced price capping measures have excluded farmers’ products from the measure.

Intermarché’s list of items does not include traditional farm products like eggs, milk and butter. Leclerc’s price capping only includes its own brand MDD and excludes agricultural products.

French supermarkets have seen sales increase since the beginning of lockdown. Customers must however respect rules on social distancing and are only let inside in handfuls at the time. Photo: AFP

French farmers have lost access to an important part of their workforce this year. Following the new restrictions, foreign seasonal workers are not able to participate in harvests, which means many of the farmers are able to produce less. 

Farmers have also said they face difficulties with reduced demand following the closure of food markets that usually sell products like cheese and eggs.

Because farmers cannot stop producing these products overnight (cows need to be milked also during lockdown), some farms have large surpluses they don't know how to get rid of.

France’s Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire has said he will “ensure that the price increase on groceries remains acceptable” and that “any abuses will be sanctioned.”  



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