According to consumer association Familles Rurales, fruit and vegetable prices have increased by 17 percent in the past year, with fruit like peaches (21 percent increase), nectarines (+26 percent) and pears (+24 percent) among those most affected.
“We have never seen anything like it,” Dominique Marmier, president of Familles Rurales, told Le Parisien. “And on top of that, it does not guarantee that producers will be better paid.”
French consumer groups reported roughly a 9 percent increase in fruit and vegetable prices during lockdown, at a time when purchasing power was a major concern for French people.
The jump in prices can be explained by a combination of factors tied to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Firstly, the implementation of strict protection measures (buying masks and disinfectant, keeping 1m distance between fruit pickers) have slowed down production and resulted in a 5 to 15 percent increase in production costs.
A reduced migrant workforce has also led producers to employ more French workers, who are generally more expensive, while border closures meant a decrease in imports from countries like Spain, where fruit like strawberries are 50 percent to 70 percent cheaper than in France.
Other factors like unfavourable weather conditions have also come into play. Frosts in March had a significant impact on fruit production.
“This year’s production of the majority of fruit like peaches, apricots and nectarines has been insufficient (in relation to the demand from consumers),” Laurent Grandin, president of Interfel professional association, told Le Parisien.
This month, however, things seem to slowly be going back to normal: “2020 has been a very unusual year due to the pandemic, but since July we have been returning to more normal prices, and some products are now even cheaper than they were in 2019,” Gardin said.