One year ago, the Assembly rejected a bill by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who defended the freezing of prices on energy and a series of basic necessities. The Insoumis would also keep this proposal in its program for the presidential election. But after a year marked by very high inflation, it is now the government that is proposing to regulate certain prices in supermarkets.
It is Olivia Grégoire, Minister Delegate for Trade, who is behind this “anti-inflation basket” project, which is currently struggling to convince the players. What is this basket? What’s in it? Why are large surfaces not too hot, while occasionally launching similar operations? 20 minutes takes stock for you.
What system does the government want to put in place?
Olivia Grégoire’s objective, “to ensure that the French can have attractive prices on a daily basket”. For this, the Minister Delegate for Trade wants the distributors (E.Leclerc, Carrefour, Intermarché, Système U, Auchan, Lidl and Aldi) to agree on a list of basic necessities and set a price equivalent to one large area to another. The idea is also to reference these products so that consumers have a basis for comparison between brands.
“What I am offering to distributors”, declared Olivia Grégoire, is “collective action, together, from March” and “for three months”. His cabinet hopes to be fixed this week on the signs which undertake to launch their anti-inflation basket within the framework which will be determined by the government. Setting the month of March as the deadline allows you to “allow time for it to be put in place”.
What would be in that cheap basket?
The project is moving towards a list of around fifty products meeting the needs of an average French family with children, “and which would be at low prices and not at cost price”, mentioned Olivia Grégoire on Europe 1. “ We can imagine a category of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, in which a brand can offer mandarins and another, another commodity, ”according to his firm.
There will be a priori food and non-food products, fresh, frozen products, groceries, but also cleaning or hygiene products. “Then, knowing if, on the fresh, we are talking about a dairy product category, or are we saying yogurt and cheese category”, this remains to be arbitrated, we still say on the government side. Organic products should be part of the basket.
Why distributors are not very hot?
If the vagueness remains, it is primarily because the government itself cannot be directive. We must “leave freedom, otherwise we violate the rules of competition”, indicates Dominique Schelcher, the boss of System U. It is therefore impossible to force all the players to set up this basket. It is also impossible to precisely determine the list of products that would make up this basket, again for competition reasons. The government rather intends to leave to the signs “the choice of each product meeting a unit of need”, details the cabinet of Olivia Grégoire.
“Most brands are already doing this kind of thing quite clearly,” said the general delegate of the Federation of Commerce and Distribution (FCD) Jacques Creyssel. Moreover, System U launches this Wednesday its own basket, “150 products at cost price”. “We are not getting out of discussions with the government”, specifies Dominique Schelcher, who believes that there is “urgency” and that March 1 “is too far”.