“We propose to identify the 120 items most purchased by consumers and to create a kind of shield where we guarantee that these items do not move from May 4 until July”, explained Tuesday, May 3 on franceinfo Michel-Edouard Leclerc, president of the strategic committee of Leclerc centers where a tariff shield on basic necessities will be put in place from May 4 on 120 products. This measure is intended to compensate for inflation.
franceinfo: Has consumer behavior changed?
Michel-Edouard Leclerc: This inflation of 4.8% is already a drain between 150 and 500 euros per household depending on what they buy. There are products that are increasing between 6% and 20%, pasta has increased by 20%, some brands of coffee and chocolate are increasing at this level. It is a tax that concerns everyone. Consumers are turning to the State to try to get a food check, aid, we as a distributor it is our job to try to moderate this inflation. It’s my plot.
What do you think of the price blocking proposed by La France insoumise?
We can block prices when they increase little, but it depends on whether it is the State that blocks or the distributors. Almost all political parties have proposed recipes. At RN, they proposed to lower the VAT, among the Ecolos they proposed to lower the VAT on organic products, at LFI they proposed to freeze the prices on fruits and vegetables. But at the same time they forbid me to sell for less. They voted for it in Parliament with a very large majority. So, I suggest that we get out of the election campaign. With my colleagues from the Leclerc centers, we are proposing to identify the 120 items most purchased by consumers and to create a kind of shield where we guarantee that these items do not move from May 4 until July. If we were to increase them, we would reimburse in Leclerc tickets in the form of jackpots. The Leclerc shield is therefore a list of 120 products, evolving, I don’t have anything speculative in it.
Is the price increase the consequence of the war in Ukraine?
No, these are not yet the consequences of the war in Ukraine. There are several effects, the release of the Covid and the unavailability of transport, containers, certain trucks. No one negotiated too much and we accepted increases too easily. Industrialists have not negotiated enough. Everything that happens in Chinese ports means that everything imported is badly handled and therefore there will be increases. Avian flu has affected the livestock of ducks, hens, laying hens and therefore eggs. The added energy and transport bill modifies the cost of French agricultural production. Meat and fish are increasing very quickly. All this is before Ukraine. We have 4.8% before Ukraine and that will double by the summer or during the summer because there is the cereal problem with Ukraine, the transport problem with Ukraine and many speculation and anticipation against which we will have to fight because there is also a windfall effect for large groups to use Ukraine.
How do we limit this increase?
For energy, only the state can install what they called their shield. I am for them to extend it and for us to also be able to carry out operations at cost price, discounts on fuel. We buy well and we have to be able to say it, but the Climate law in its good will to remove advertising on fossil fuels indirectly prohibits us from advertising from August 22nd. I suggest that we lift this ban temporarily to help people.
Why are you protesting against the Egalim 2 law?
The Egalim 2 law, which allows farmers to transfer the equivalent of their production in tariff requests that we must accept, is complex. I am not in rivalry with the FNSEA, the farmers, on the latest law. It’s an assumed policy and they were in deflation for five, six years, and no one complained. On the other hand, a provision prevents me from taking on my margins. I have to buy French products at a higher price and if I can sell them at a lower price that’s better, but some people have gotten into the idea that by forcing me to sell Nutella, cocoa , the Coca Cola it would make me margins and I would buy the salad cheaper. It doesn’t work like that. So, I also ask for the provisional lifting which prohibits discounters, distributors like Leclerc from being able to sell for less. We were imposed a margin of 10%. I propose to sell cheaper despite the fact that we buy more expensive at the source.