Budget supermarket Lidl has joined E. Leclerc in selling baguettes for 29 centimes each despite the initial price announcement sparking furore among French bakers and the milling industry.
It comes one week after Leclerc CEO Michel-Édouard Leclerc sparked a backlash by announcing that his supermarket group would be selling the bread at such a low price.
He later clarified that it was a deliberately symbolic gesture designed to send a signal to consumers that prices at Leclerc would stay low despite rising raw material costs.
Now, Lidl in France is set to follow suit, in a bid to compete with the giant retailer.
Executive director of Lidl France, Michel Biero, told RMC today (January 20): "When a leading French supermarket positions itself on a price for a product as emblematic as the baguette, the whole industry will follow it.”
Yet, he appeared to concede that the price was exceptionally low and said he did not necessarily agree with the ethics of the price drop.
He said: "I do so with regret because it is not very responsible. It is fuelling a price war that destroys values and it is sending a dramatic message to an agricultural world that is in great distress today.
“Ten years ago, French supermarkets were selling baguettes for 35 centimes.”
It remains to be seen whether other retailers will follow suit. Leclerc has said it will freeze the price of baguettes at 29 centimes for at least four months.
The price is 10 centimes less than supermarket competitors Intermarché and Super U, 16 centimes less than baguettes at Carrefour, and considerably less than the cost of baguettes in many independent bakeries.
Bakers, millers and manufacturers responded with outrage at Leclerc’s initial announcement last week, calling it a “slap in the face”, “shameful”, and a move that will risk “damaging” local bakeries that will “die out” if they are forced to compete with the €0.29 deal.