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Profit protest at fruit and veg sale

Farmers bring 40 tonnes of fresh produce to Paris and sell it directly to the public to protest at 'excessive' margins

FRUIT and vegetable farmers are to meet the agriculture minister today to protest about supermarket profit margins, after handing out 40 tonnes of fresh produce directly to the public yesterday.

Producers from the Lot-et-Garonne, Charente, Drôme and Gers travelled to Paris and sold their produce at cost price. Large queues formed at the Place de la Bastille for the initiative, with smaller fruit and veg sales in other towns in the Ile-de-France suburbs.

The sale was organised by the Communist party and agriculture union Modef. It aimed to raise awareness of how much supermarkets add to the price they pay farmers.

The farmers are calling on the government to do more to regulate the "excessive" profit mark-up. They are also protesting against a growing number of imports from Spain, which they say amounts to "unfair competition".

The French agriculture minister, Bruno Le Maire, has met his Spanish counterpart and the pair will discuss the issue further at a meeting of all the EU farming ministers in Brussels on September 19.

In recent weeks, supermarkets have been ordered to slash the price charged to consumers for various products - including tomatoes, peaches and nectarines - because of tumbling wholesale prices.

Most of the major chains have a deal with the state to support French fruit and vegetable producers when prices fall significantly below the average paid over the past five years.

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