France’s Le Maire says 75 food firms to cut prices

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PARIS, June 9 (Reuters) – French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday 75 big food industry players pledged to lower prices on hundreds of products starting next month, adding they would be at risk of financial sanctions if they broke the promise.

“I’m telling the French that, as soon as July, prices of certain products will go down. And there will be checks and there we will be sanctions for those who don’t abide by the rules,” Le Maire told BFM TV, mentioning pasta, poultry and oil as some of the products on which prices will be cut.

He made the announcement a day after meeting with 75 companies that make and sell 80% of what the French eat.

“I will have the list of those hundreds of products concerned next week,” Le Maire added, warning that if some food companies did no stick to their pledge, he would “disclose (their names) to the public.”

“On a certain number of products where wholesale prices have fallen, then the (retail) prices will have to fall too, by 2, 3, 5 maybe even 10%,” he said.

French inflation cooled more than expected in May to its lowest level in a year, at 6.0%, as energy and food price increases moderated. But those food prices still were up 14% last month after a record spike of almost 16% in March.

Le Maire has been urging food retailers and manufacturers to cut their prices to help French households cope with a cost-of-living crisis for months.

Last week, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban imposed mandatory price cuts on some basic food items by large retailers as his nationalist government tries to tame the European Union’s highest inflation rate from levels exceeding 20%.

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