More everyday French supermarket products accused of ‘shrinkflation’

Cordon-bleu, yoghurts, and ham are in the firing line, with prices up to 25% higher for lower quality items

“Anything goes to make money, at the expense of consumers,” said Foodwatch, after publishing its latest shrinkflation report

Three major food brands in France have been accused of ‘shrinkflation’ - selling less of their products, or lower-quality items, for the same price - by consumer association Foodwatch.

The group claimed it had found yoghurts, diced ham, and cordon-bleu escalopes whose prices had increased by 25%, despite the products themselves having different recipes with ingredients of lower quality or quantity.

 In a report published on April 17, it specifically identified: 

  • Le Gaulois chicken cordon-bleu escalopes, whose price rose by 25% in E. Leclerc stores from 2022 to 2024, despite having 6.9% less chicken meat and 40% less Emmental cheese. 

  • Fleury Michon ham (hachis parmentier au jambon), whose price rose 23% at Carrefour, despite the amount of pork in having fallen by 27%

  • Siggi’s (Lactalis-Nestlé) Vanilla Skyr yoghurt, which cost 13% more per kilo at Système U from 2023-2024, despite having 6% more agave syrup.

‘Making a mockery of us’

"It's yet another example of the absolute nonsense of brands making a mockery of us,” said Karine Jacquemart, director general of Foodwatch France, to BFMTV-RMC.

“These are repeat offenders, who are replacing ingredients that are often of poorer quality, but raising prices and - worst of all - [often] without informing customers.”

She said: “Anything goes to make money, at the expense of consumers. We are condemned to have products that are less and less good [quality], which create chronic illnesses.”

She called the practice “abusive” and warned brands that “impunity is over”. “We will track your abusive practices,” she said.

Foodwatch has now called for the government to do more to combat shrinkflation and the changing of the quality of food products without making it clear to consumers.

Ms Jacquemart said that the group had called for this before, but claimed that the government had been slow to act because of pressure from retailers and food manufacturer lobbies.

Yet, she conceded that a new decree, announced this week, is set to “make it compulsory for distributors to provide information when there are cases of shrinkflation”. 

“This is another step towards transparency,” she said.

Brand response

Le Gaulois group has confirmed that it has made changes to its recipe, citing problems with sourcing French poultry due to "the bird flu that has affected [its] partner farmers”. However, it did state that it has “updated the list of ingredients on the packaging”.

Fleury Michon said that the reduction in pork in its product had “not impacted the nutritional value”, and that the “tenderness and taste” had increased.

Siggi said that its addition of extra agave syrup and vanilla was justified to improve the texture of the product, and to make it “sweeter”.

On the subject of prices, Fleury Michon said that supermarkets “are free to set their selling prices" and that its margins "have remained very low" for the past two years. 

It comes amid a time of high inflation, largely driven by increased food prices. At its peak, food cost inflation hit a 16% year-on-year rise in spring 2023. However, more recently it had slowed to a 1.7% by March 2024.