A three-month initiative to ease the impact of rising food prices has begun in French supermarkets.
From March 15 to June 15, prices on a range of items will be kept as low as possible.
In February, it emerged food prices had risen 14.8% in just a year.
The inflation pushed the French government to strike a deal with supermarkets called the “anti-inflation quarter” (trimestre anti-inflation).
Paris had wanted to introduce a so-called “anti-inflation basket”, which would have seen prices on a fixed range of products kept as low as possible.
But supermarkets rejected this. Instead, they will keep prices down on a range of items of their choosing.
Most of the large supermarkets in France have signed up, including Carrefour, Intermarché, the U brand, Casino, Aldi, Auchan, Cora and Lidl. However, the E.Leclerc brand refused to take part.
Read more: Major French supermarkets agree to keep essential food prices down
Items covered by the anti-inflation measure will be designated with an official red, white and blue logo of a shopping trolley with the words trimestre anti-inflation around it.
Document @BFMTV : le logo « trimestre anti-inflation » qui fera son apparition dans les prochains jours dans les rayons des supermarchés pendant 100 jours. pic.twitter.com/A0fvVUksfq— Léopold Audebert (@LeopoldAudebert) March 6, 2023
Prices of selected items are not necessarily cheap or healthy
Olivier Andrault, from French consumer choice magazine UFC - Que Choisir, said that there is no guarantee the prices of these items will not increase over the three months.
This is because shops have said they will reduce their profit margins on the items chosen, not freeze prices.
Consumers have also noticed that the items selected are not necessarily the healthiest, with many having the worst nutritional ranking.
Read more: French supermarkets under fire for cutting prices on ‘unhealthy’ items
France’s Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire has also announced that households with the lowest incomes will get a chèque alimentaire (a food cheque).
Mr Le Maire said at the beginning of March that the measure will be trialled in the next few months and will likely be carried out on a departmental level. No more details have yet to be confirmed.
Bruno Le Maire: "Il y aura bien un chèque alimentaire pour les plus modestes, sur une base locale" pic.twitter.com/6XywaqJ5sF— BFMTV (@BFMTV) March 6, 2023
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