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Price of toilet paper to rise significantly, says boss of E. Leclerc

Clothes and sunflower oil also face steep hikes but experts do not predict shortages - at least not before the summer

The costs of making toilet paper have gone up due to soaring energy prices and the lower availability of raw materials from Ukraine and Russia Pic: Pack-Shot / Shutterstock

Products such as toilet paper, clothes and sunflower oil are rising in price in France due to the effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, say experts. 

However, they do not foresee any shortages before summer. 

“The lack of stocks on the shelves [at the moment] is due to consumers worrying. They tend to buy one more product than they need to, causing shortages during the restocking period,” Olivier Dauvers, a retail expert, told La Dépêche. 

“We are not facing shortages [in terms of supply] but rather a drop in availability, which is very different,” he said, adding it will mean prices going up on certain products.

Inflation in France is at its highest point since the 1980s, with a general increase in prices of 4.5% compared to one year ago. 

Much of this is down to rising energy prices, which rose by 28.9% in March alone, but food prices have also started to increase with products on average 1.26% pricier now than in March 2021. 

Read more: Top 10 food products in France most hit by price rises

Rodolphe Bonnasse, another retail expert, also said that France is not necessarily facing immediate shortages on products, but said that it could happen within three to four months if the supply chain broke down further. 

We look at some of the most popular products that are seeing notable price increases. 

Toilet paper, tissues, pasta, meat

Michel-Edouard Leclerc of supermarket chain E. Leclerc said that there will be no shortages before the summer. 

“There is pasta. For sunflower oil, our stocks go until June,” he said. 

Even if pasta stocks are expected to last, it is one product that has seen significant price increases, going up 12.9% compared to last year. 

Toilet paper is another product that is expected to go up in price, with Mr Leclerc saying the rise could be “considerable”. 

Along with tissues, prices for toilet paper could rise by as much as 30%, TFI reports, due to a lack of availability of pulp - used to make the toilet paper - and rising energy costs to manufacture it. 

Mr Leclerc also said that meat prices could rise due to knock-on effects.

“Ukraine produces a lot of fertiliser and supplies 30-40% of the European market for certain types of corn. This will be in short supply. This will cause the price of feed for livestock to go up, leading to an increase in the cost of meat production,” he said. 

29 centimes baguette to stay (for now)

Mr Leclerc confirmed, though, that E. Leclerc’s 29 centimes baguette, which was heavily criticised by independent bakeries, will remain in shops until July. 

Lidl is also offering baguettes for the same price.

Read more: Lidl France joins Leclerc to sell baguettes for 29 centimes

Sunflower oil

Mr Bonnasse said that three-quarters of the global production of sunflower oil comes from Russia and Ukraine. 

“In some markets, such as Spain and Belgium, some companies have started to ration purchases,” he said. 

The company Metro, which is the number one supplier of food products to restaurants in France, has begun preparing for a shortage in sunflower oil by rationing sales.

Mr Dauvers, meanwhile, was relatively optimistic about France’s oil supply. 

"Professionals will turn to rapeseed or palm oil instead. There will be no shortage of oil.”

It is to be noted that a [potential] increase of usage of palm oil may cause controversy due to its environnmental impact.

Clothes

Clothes already increased in price by 3.2% in 2021, France’s national statistics agency Insee reported. 

It is stated that prices on certain products could increase by a further five to 15% this year. 

Louis Gabriel Nouchi, founder of the Parisian designer brand of the same name, said that the price of clothes is now “more complicated than during the coronavirus pandemic”. 

“I could buy a length of fabric for €19.5-per-metre a month ago, but this has risen to €25,” he told Franceinfo

The Ukraine war is not the only cause of the price rises. Covid had already heavily impacted the sector. 

Alexandra Broussaud, general manager of the Broussaud company, which has been making socks for over 80 years, said cotton prices have been rising since 2021.

We had a 21% increase last year, then a further 28% on January 1, 2022," she said. 

Sylvie Chailloux, head of the French Union of Fashion and Clothing Industries (UFIMH), said there could be some positives to the price rises and supply chain issues. 

“The pandemic has had a big impact on us. We realised our lack of sovereignty when it came to industry. 

“So it's true that specialist sourcing companies got a fright and started to move back towards using producers in Europe or around the Mediterranean.”  

She said she expects households to spend less money on clothes this year. 

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