Consumer associations questioned the Head of State on Wednesday and demanded more “transparency” on the margins made by food manufacturers and mass distribution. “Profits have never been so important,” notes Familles Rurales.
Four consumer defense associations, Foodwatch, Familles Rurales, UFC-Que Choisir and CLCV sent an open letter to the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday, November 29. In particular, they ask the Head of State for a “total and immediate transparency on the net margins by product achieved by the giants of the agri-food industry and mass distribution”as explained by Nadia Ziane, director of the consumption department of the Familles Rurales association, on franceinfo.
franceinfo: Emmanuel Macron committed “personally” in September to putting in place an agreement on “margin moderation” for major agri-food manufacturers. Are we far from it?
Nadia Ziane: Absolutely, we are very far from it. Actually, it’s quite factual. We took the figures from INSEE, the publications of large groups, those from the Training Observatory and prices and margins and they are all consistent with our own studies, they demonstrate excessive profits. This is qualified by the Competition Authority itself, which tells us that two-thirds of food inflation finds its origin in excessive profits, particularly from agri-food manufacturers. What we know today is that one in two French people give up certain foods due to lack of sufficient resources and that one in three French people are completely skipping meals. When at the same time, we have these excessive profits, quite logically, we await the intervention of the Head of State.
Are you also asking to make excessive margins on essential food products (fruits, vegetables, etc.) impossible?
Large retailers make significant profits. In the fruit and vegetable section, it is 247 million euros in 2021 and it fills the deficit in other sections such as that of pastry, i.e. 65 million euros per year, with the profits made on fruits and vegetables. vegetables. We say it’s not logical. We say at some point our producers suffer, our consumers no longer have access to these essential products for their health. And at the same time, mass distribution is making significant profits. So, let’s restore some kind of balance in all of this, rationalize things and get everyone to be able to consume the products they need to be healthy.
The National Association of Food Industries defends itself against any abuse, explaining that the prices of agricultural raw materials have increased by 58% since 2020, energy 59% since 2020, packaging 42%. In other words, these price increases are not there by chance, are you accusing them of having taken advantage of the situation?
We do not deny that certain production costs have increased. But the day we know how much food costs to produce, how much each level in the chain takes and how much the consumer pays the final price, that will suit us and then we will be able to believe ANIA in the fact that there is no not have excessive profits. Once again, in the official figures available today, what we realize is that profits have never been so important in the agri-food industry and that room for maneuver is possible if, and only if manufacturers put a little less in their pockets. We are in line with the words of the President of the Republic who said ‘If I notice that people are taking advantage of the crisis, I will intervene to obtain an agreement’.
“20% increase in food prices in two years is impossible for certain budgets to absorb”Nadia Ziane, from Rural Families
So we are looking for the information to be given to us, for the opacity to end. If we were to realize when the transparency is total, that we were wrong, we would apologize. But for the moment it is factual, we have excessive profits, all the authorities say so. So we need to review our margins which are weighing down both for consumers and for French producers.