Food inflation stabilizes in supermarkets, at a high level

In the Carrefour hypermarket in Villeneuve-la-Garenne (Hauts-de-Seine), March 29, 2023.

It is not yet the expected decline, but the rise in prices is finally showing signs of respite. In May, the prices of food products increased by 0.3% over one month on the shelves of large retailers, according to data published on Wednesday May 24 by the research company Circana (ex-IRI).

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Better. This panelist, who scrutinizes consumer purchases at the outlet of stores, estimates that inflation of consumer goods has reached 16% over one year. To be compared with the 16.2% posted in April over one year. A very slight slowdown which must however be put into perspective. In the spring of 2022, inflation was starting to take off. If we take May 2021 as a reference, before the price inflation, the price increase now reaches 20.4%. It was 19% in April.

In May, one-year inflation for consumer products no longer rose. It is stabilizing, admittedly at a high level (+ 16%), but it is no longer increasing, for the second month in a row”, notes Emily Mayer, of Circana. To explain the achievement of this plateau, she evokes “the sharply downward repositioning of a group of brands started in April”, but also “the lull in private label and first price inflation, notably linked to the “anti-inflation quarter””.

Polemical quantification

The “anti-inflation quarter” operation was launched in March, under the impetus of Bercy. All distributors have more or less responded to the government’s request to take on their margins to reduce the consumer’s receipt. Knowing that they had obtained full latitude to compose this operation sponsored by the State (products, number of articles, duration of the operation, amount of the discount). The Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, welcomed the ” hit “ of the operation, mid-May, when he received the distributors at Bercy and asked them to continue it until mid-September. Which they generally accepted.

A success which was however the subject of a controversy when quantifying it, in mid-May. The Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention estimated the average price drop at 13% for a basket made up of the products concerned by these promotions in the various brands. When UFC-Que Choisir evoked, conversely, a slight increase. Thierry Cotillard, president of the Les mousquetaires-Intermarché group, estimated for his brand at 8% the average discount on a batch of 500 products, at the microphone of France Inter, Friday, May 19.

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