“We propose to identify the 120 items that consumers buy the most and to create a kind of shield where we guarantee that these items will not be moved from May 4 to July.”, Michel-Edouard Leclerc, chairman of the strategic committee of the Leclerc centers, explained to franceinfo on Tuesday, May 3, where a tariff shield for 120 essential products will be implemented from May 4. This measure is intended to offset inflation.
franceinfo: Has consumer behavior changed?
Michel-Edouard Leclerc: This inflation of 4.8% is already a drain between 150 and 500 euros per household depending on what it buys. There are products that increase between 6% and 20%, pasta has increased by 20%, some brands of coffee and chocolate are increasing at this level. It is a tax that concerns everyone. Consumers turn to the state to try to get food control, help, we as distributors it is our job to try to mitigate this inflation. It’s my plot.
How do you like the price block proposed by La France insoumise?
We can block prices when they rise slightly, but it depends on whether the state blocks or the distributors. Almost all political parties have proposed recipes. In RN they proposed a reduction in VAT, among Ecolos they proposed a reduction in VAT on organic products, in LFI they proposed a freeze on prices for fruits and vegetables. But at the same time they forbid me to sell cheaper. They voted for it in Parliament with a very large majority. So I suggest we get out of the election campaign. With my colleagues from the Leclerc centers, we propose to identify the 120 items that consumers buy the most and create a kind of shield where we guarantee that these items will not be moved from May 4 to July. If we were to increase them, we would return tickets to Leclerc in the form of a jackpot. So the Leclerc shield is a list of 120 products that is evolving, I do not have anything speculative in it.
Is the rise in prices the consequence of the war in Ukraine?
No, these are not yet the consequences of the war in Ukraine. There are several consequences, the release of Covid and the unavailability of transport, containers, some trucks. Nobody negotiated too much and we accepted increases very easily. Manufacturers have not traded enough. What is happening in Chinese ports means that everything imported is done badly and therefore there will be increases. Avian flu has affected animals such as ducks, chickens, laying hens and therefore eggs. The added energy and transport bill modifies the cost of French agricultural production. Meat and fish grow very fast. All this is before Ukraine. We have 4.8% ahead of Ukraine and this will double by summer or during the summer, because there is the problem of cereals with Ukraine, the problem of transport with Ukraine and a lot of speculation and expectations against which we will we have to fight because there is also an unexpected profit result for large groups to use Ukraine.
How do we limit this increase?
For energy, only the state can install what they called their shield. I am in favor of extending it and also being able to make transactions at cost price, discounts on fuel. We buy well and we must be able to say it, but the climate law, with its good will, to abolish advertising in our fossil fuels indirectly prohibits advertising from 22 August. I suggest we lift this ban temporarily to help people.
Why are you protesting against the Egalim 2 law?
The Egalim 2 law, which allows farmers to transfer the equivalent of their produce to customs claims that we must accept, is complex. I’m not in competition with the FNSEA, the farmers, for the latest law. It’s a supposed policy and it has been deflated for five, six years, and no one has complained. On the other hand, a provision prevents me from taking my margins. I have to buy French products at a higher price and if I can sell them at a lower price it is better, but some people have come up with the idea that forcing me to sell Nutella, cocoa, Coca Cola would give me a profit margin and I would buy the salad cheaper. It does not work that way. So, I also ask for the temporary lifting that prohibits discounters, distributors like Leclerc from being able to sell less. We were imposed a 10% margin. I suggest selling cheaper despite the fact that we buy more expensively at source.