Inflation in France: which foods have risen most, will rises continue?

Supermarket own brand products have seen some of the sharpest increases

A photo of a woman with a shopping trolley holding a receipt, looking at her phone, to show rising prices
Food and supermarket items are set to continue to rise in price in France after soaring costs in 2022
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Seven out of 10 common food and household items rose by more than 10% between January and November 2022 due to inflation, a new report shows. Some, such as toilet paper, rose by considerably more (25%).

However, increases were even higher for ‘own brand’ products, which rose by over 15% overall in the year.

The highest percentage increases highlighted during 2022 include:

  • Frozen meat: 29.3 %

  • Toilet paper: 25%

  • Pasta: 20.3%

  • Oils: 20.2%

  • Butter, crème fraîche, margarine: 17.6%

  • Eggs: 16.2%

  • Cat and dog food: 15.57%

  • Vegetables in jars: 15.5%

  • Packaged bread: 15%

  • Frozen ready meals: 14.6%

  • Rice: 14.2%

The data comes from a report from insights group the Nielsen Institute which also found that a significant number (5.6%) of products had simply become ‘unavailable’ in supermarkets last year, especially between October and November.

Many prices are set to continue rising this year, with inflation continuing to rise for the first six months of the year at least.

Head of supermarket E. Leclerc, Michel-Edouard Leclerc, told JDD that prices would “reach a peak between April and June”. He also said that food prices had risen on average by 12% over the course of 2022.

Figures from national statistics bureau l’Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (Insee) show that prices for food products, energy, and manufacturing goods and services rose due to inflation by 5.2% annually over 2022, compared to 1.6% over 2021.

However, the government has sought to reassure consumers.

Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said that inflation should begin to drop in 2023 to a lower figure of 4.3% over the course of the year.

This tallies with a statement from François Villeroy de Galhau, the governor of the Banque de France, who said he is aiming to bring inflation down to 2% within two to three years.

The figures come days after a new, low-cost supermarket announced its arrival on the market in France. Toujust, which is set to launch in March, is promising prices up to 5-10% lower than competitors by working directly with suppliers.

Read also: New low-cost supermarket in France aims to sell at up to 10% cheaper

‘Tsunami’ of prices to come in 2023?

But Mr Leclerc still appears sceptical about the effect on food prices. He has even used the word “tsunami” to describe the coming inflation this year. He said: “We know three or four months in advance how prices are going to be affected through our central purchasing hubs.”

The head of Systeme U, Dominique Schelcher, was not so pessimistic but nevertheless feels tough times still lie ahead.

He said: “This year we took on the rising cost of raw materials and the impact of shortages. Ahead of us, we have rising gas and electricity prices.

“Behind this, we’ll have the third wave with the cost of ecological changes. But we are entering a sustainable inflation cycle. It will eventually drop, but no one can say when. Probably not in 2023.”

Economists debate

During a Senate round table committee meeting on purchasing power in France, some economists also took a less-than-positive view of 2023.

Mathieu Plane, deputy director of the analysis and forecasting department of the Observatoire Français des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE) said that inflation, and its impact, had been softened in 2022 by government aid, and would worsen once this ends.

Similarly, Agnès Bénassy-Quéré, chief economist at the French Treasury, said: "There is no miracle, purchasing power is better in France [than in other European countries in a similar position] but this is thanks to state support.”

This good fortune could run out in 2023, the economists said.

Mr Plane explained: "We have had less inflation than our neighbours because we have had [government price] shields (bouclier tarifaire) in place but we can't maintain these forever.

"We are going to have to drop these shields, and the 15-cent discount (on fuel prices), which will create an inflationary shock for people who were protected until then. In 2023, we may have more inflation than our neighbours due to this levelling-out effect.”

The universal fuel discount that had been in place for drivers has already ended with a more targeted one-off €100 fuel payment replacing it for people who use their vehicles heavily for work.

Read more: Fuel aid France: Around 10 million workers to get extra €100

Some extra financial aid is still in place for energy costs, however, including for people who heat their homes with fuel oil and wood.

Read more: Rising energy bills in France: we recap the aid available in 2023

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