food prices are expected to increase by another 2 to 3% after negotiations between producers and distributors.

The official ending was announced last night at midnight. As the government and agricultural unions scrambled to find a way out of the crisis in the face of a farm revolt, distributors and their suppliers tried to conclude annual negotiations on national brands, which are set to end by law on January 31 this year.

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In an extremely tense context due to a price war between distributors, which has been rekindled by inflation, not all have succeeded.

“Last night, of all the meetings affected by the January 31st deadline, the signature rate of our members was on average 40%. This morning we may have reached 50%,” fears Richard Panquiault, president of the Consumer Business Liaison Institute (Ilec), which represents about a hundred companies that own two-thirds of the brands sold in large grocery stores.

The rate of signatures would still be slightly higher, 65%, with the exception of companies that negotiate with European shopping centers, specifies the president of Ilec, who criticizes Ilec for circumventing French law and therefore the deadline. And the situations are very diverse: if for some distributors this rate can rise to more than 70%, for others it is only 15%, he points out.

So the negotiations will undoubtedly continue for a few more days, even if later than required by law. Apart from extreme cases, none of the parties is interested in breaking off the business relationship, believes Richard Panquiault.

AND “little inflation”

Any assessment is therefore premature at this stage. But based on the first round of negotiations, the date of which was set for January 15, and the first feedback from the field last night, Ilec plans to increase the average purchase price of food products by distributors by 2 to 3%. . Jacques Creyssel, president of the Federation of Commerce and Distribution (FCD), states the same number: a “little inflation” which corresponds to what distributors and manufacturers had already planned at the beginning of the year.

Which does not mean that they will also increase the shelf prices that distributors set according to their business strategies.

“But it won’t be very different,” says Jacques Creyssel, for whom “distributors’ room for maneuver is very limited.”

Some products “made from wheat, poultry, oils or certain varieties of coffee” should still see declines, Richard Panquiault estimated.

Forecasting inflation for certain products

According to the president of FCD, an exhaustive assessment will be possible in a month. But the provisional one still puts into perspective the expected impact of the end of the negotiations – normally set for March 1 – the Ministry of Economy wants this year in the hope that the drop in prices will be transferred to store shelves more quickly. certain raw materials. For certain categories that are experiencing strong growth, such as chocolate, the result may even be the opposite: expectations of inflation, says a mass distribution source.

These more limited times, on the other hand, undoubtedly added to the tension. And the insistence of the Ministry of the Economy over the last few months on the need to preserve the purchasing power of French food, “was used by distributors”, condemned Jérôme Foucault, president of the Association of Companies that Produce Food Products (Adepale).

For its members, 60% of whom had to concede discounts and the rest won prizes “insufficient to finance the energy transition and investments”, “negotiations end in pain”. Many had to accept a reduction in their business plans. In the latest internal survey carried out by the association at the beginning of the week, 80% of respondents believe that, contrary to what the law stipulates, agricultural raw material “wasn’t fully protected” in business negotiations this year. Compared to previous years, they recorded a decrease.

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