This forgotten trick that would halve food prices

Since 2019, the law has limited discounts on food prices. If Bruno Le Maire has put forward the idea of ​​relaxing this ban this summer, his proposal has so far remained a dead letter.

It is a recent law, but which already seems outdated in this period of strong price increases. While households are under the threat of galloping food inflation since the outbreak of the invasion of Ukraine, the EGalim law, or “Agriculture and Food”, voted by the majority in 2019, limits the discounts of distributors at 34% of the sale price for food products. The goal at the time: to offer “healthy and sustainable” food to the French while remunerating the producers at their fair value. If this measure made it possible to respond, in part, to the malaise of farmers, it has a particular echo today, especially for the most modest households.

From the beginning of July, the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire mentioned on France Inter the possibility of raising the ceiling for promotions on food products to 50%. Along with refueling and the heating bill, filling the refrigerator was indeed becoming one of the government’s priorities on the price front. “I propose that we raise this threshold (from 34%) to 50%, so that there are discounted prices for all those who need it”, declared then the boss of Bercy, greeted in passing by a part of mass distribution, led by Michel-Edouard Leclerc.

A proposal excluded from the purchasing power law

But the problem of farmers has since come back in force. The day after Bruno Le Maire’s statements, Christiane Lambert, the president of the National Federation of Farmers’ Unions (FNSEA) castigated a “scandalous” idea, believing that it would still be up to farmers to pay for this new tariff reduction. Farmers also impacted by rising energy or packaging prices. Bruno Le Maire’s proposal was therefore quickly “dismissed” during the summer, during a working meeting around Emmanuel Macron and Elisabeth Borne. It does not appear in the purchasing power law passed in August, giving pride of place to aid and one-off bonuses.

Can such a trick relating directly to food prices come back to the fore in the coming months? It would inevitably revive the controversy, not to mention that in any case, the decision to apply or not the expected rebates would remain dependent on the good will of the distributors. For farmers, a few ideas could nevertheless make the difference: the EGalim 2 law, passed at the start of the year, also guarantees part of the producers’ income on the main price of the products. It also provides that annual trade negotiations between agrifood players take into account the real cost of production of foodstuffs, which would make it possible to absorb all or part of the increase in production costs.

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