Fried fat, fall in organic, less frozen food … The French are adjusting to inflation

Fried fat, fall in organic, less frozen food ... The French are adjusting to inflation


With the return of rising prices in supermarkets, French consumption is experiencing major shocks with product markets falling sharply and others soaring.

The jolt of inflation is beginning to have an impact on consumption. While supermarket price increases have reached levels not seen in 14 years, consumers have already begun to change their habits.

And they did not expect the current price increase. As early as February, Credoc noted that almost half of consumers had already begun to relax their spending. Thus, 48% of French people assured that they intended to reduce their spending from just 34% in July 2021. Among the least affluent categories, this percentage even reached a record level of 69%.

Fewer enjoyment markets, fewer clothes, fewer restaurants and unprecedented shelf arbitrage. With a first symbolic victim: the organic. After years of steady growth, sales of organic products have been showing costs for several months. According to Iri, sales of organic products fell by 6.6% in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the same period last year. By comparison, conventional products fell by 1.6% over the same period.

-29% for toothbrushes

Even in the food sector, frozen foods are the ones that suffer the most from the phenomenon of re-consumption. While frozen meat is one of the products with the highest price increase at the moment (+ 11.3% in April), consumers are moving away from the entire segment. Frozen food sales fell 5.3% at the end of April, according to Iri.

Most surprisingly, consumers have greatly reduced their spending on hygiene products in recent weeks. The entire segment recorded a spectacular 7% drop in turnover at the end of April. A decline explained in particular by the mass cessation of purchases of masks, gels and other self-tests (the comparison is made with the same week of 2021). But it is not the only reason. The care of the hands and lips also falls sharply (-30% at the end of April) as well as the … toothbrushes (-29%).

In contrast, some products recorded peak sales that are rarely seen in supermarkets. This is true for flours which, despite rising prices by 11%, saw their sales increase by almost 36% at the end of April. This is a direct consequence of the current situation. Consumers are storing this product en masse, fearing future shortages with the conflict in Ukraine. Precautionary markets are highlighted by the distribution in the media of increasingly sparse shelves.

The same with the oils that have disappeared from the shelves of most French supermarkets for several weeks. The shortage of sunflowers from Ukraine resulted in the beginning of April in a supermarket of vegetable oils during the month (peanuts, rapeseed, etc.) and the shelves are now empty. In some areas, olive oil is used as a substitute, but across the country it has been transferred to frying fats. This small product category (under 32 million euros in 2021) saw its sales increase by 89% in the last week of April. If the French have given up some delights, french fries do not seem to be on the sacrificial program.

Frederic Bianchi


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