While the feverish outbreak continues on the shelves of supermarkets (+ 16.2% at the end of March over one year, according to figures published on Tuesday by the panelist Circana) the French are scrutinizing the labels in stores more and more closely.
And they are tightening their belts more and more each month.
Thus, while consumption in supermarkets held up fairly well in 2022, with a drop in volumes limited to 2.2% over the year, the decline reached 4.6% in the first three months of 2023.
And for good reason: one year after the start of the inflationary wave following the chain effects of the war in Ukraine, some departments are affected by a waltz of labels never seen in 40 years.
First, raw or processed food products, but with a strong agricultural focus.
This is the case of the dairy department (milk, creams, cheeses, eggs), whose prices have soared the most strongly and sustainably (+21% over the last 12 months ended last week, according to Circana).
It is closely followed by the ice cream section (+20.3% over one year), then the savory (appetizer cakes, soups, pasta, rice, preserves, etc.) and sweet (chocolates, biscuits, sweets) groceries. ..) whose prices jumped 18.1% and 16.8% respectively over the same period.
Finally, the non-dairy fresh section (cooked meals, ham, charcuterie, etc.) posted a 16.4% increase over 12 rolling months.
Egalim Law and the explosion of paper pulp
If we take the month of March alone, the strongest increases affect frozen meats (+31.6% compared to March 2022), paper tissues (+30.4%), canned pasta (+30.3%), toilet paper (+27.4%) and mustard (+27.3%).
The overinflation on these shelves is quite logical: these products, under the Egalim 1 and 2 laws, must automatically pass on inflation to the price of their agricultural inputs (which have increased significantly in 2022).
With one goal: to preserve farmers' income.
Distributors must also sell them with a minimum margin of 10% and not practice promotions higher than 34% of their selling prices.
In paper-based products, the explosion in pulp prices also explains these increases.
Conversely, the least inflationary categories are found in the beverage departments (without or with alcohol), with a lower agricultural component.
But also on body care and home maintenance products, on which the price war has moved since the entry into force in 2018 and 2021 of the Egalim 1 and 2 laws, which only govern products food.
Over one year to the end of March, spirits and champagnes only saw their labels increase by 6.9%, cleaning products for the home (products for windows, bleach, etc.) by 9.2 % and hygiene products (shampoos, toothpaste, etc.) by 13.3%.
Promos soon to be limited in hygiene and beauty
In March alone, the prices of hair accessories (+2.8% compared to March 2022), make-up (+3.3%) and detergents (+3.6%) were the prices of which increased the least.
And this even if their manufacturers have also suffered an increase in their production costs, in particular packaging, energy and transport.
Recently, distributors have warned that these shelves will also soon be won over by an inflationary wave, the very recent law on the supply of French people with consumer products (known as the "Descrozaille law") wishing to extend the limitation of promotions to drugstore, perfumery and hygiene products (DPH).
A measure dismissed in extremis by the government, the limitation of promotions on these products only finally coming into force in a year.
Either when inflation has (perhaps) finally fallen.