To what extent will the surge in food prices be bearable by the population? If the question arises with even more seriousness in poor countries, it is also on the table in Europe or on the American continent. And in France, the figures recently released by IRI (Information Resources, Inc.) reflect the empirical observations of consumers: consumer products have thus increased by 2.9% between April 2021 and 2022, even more for products food. But it is by looking more closely that the concerns are understood. In twelve months, the price of pasta has jumped 15.31%. Other products consumed in mass also peak: mustards (9.26%), oils (9.98%), flours (10.93%), frozen meats (11.34%).
“Totally unprecedented situation”
“We are living in a totally unprecedented situation because you have to go back more than thirty-five years to have such inflation rates”, summarized in the echoes Jacques Creyssel, general delegate of the Fédération du commerce et de la distribution, the distributors’ union. who adds: “If we add the increases resulting from the trade negotiations at the start of 2022, the increase in distribution costs, with energy, and the effect of the renegotiations in progress, the increase in food product prices could be between 7% and 10%. %.” More generally, INSEE also estimated on Monday an inflation increase of more than 5% in May and 5.4% in June, with food prices which could increase once again by 6.3% on Monday. next month.
A surge that should also continue in the coming months. In the Parisian, the president of the Système U supermarkets, Dominique Schelcher, cited the example of Spain or Germany to estimate that inflation could rise to 10%, ‘due in particular to the cost of energy’. Despite everything, the month of April saw a brief lull for the prices of agricultural raw materials. The price index has indeed fallen slightly after months of strong increases. A lull that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) hastens to put into perspective. Because if the world price index has fallen, it is mainly thanks to those of palm oil, “mainly driven by weak global imports due to high costs, as well as a weaker demand outlook in China,” explains the agency.
Decrease in the number of purchases
But the decision last week by Indonesia, the world’s largest palm oil producer, to ban exports to contain soaring domestic prices and shortages risks triggering a new surge. This weekend, to show Jakarta’s determination, the Indonesian navy seized a tanker leaving the country’s palm oil. The same situation for cereals, which also experienced a slight decline. But the chaos in Ukraine, with blocked ports, complicated harvests and silos that cannot be emptied, should once again strain the market, which could be even more dramatic in countries like Egypt or Lebanon, which are very dependent wheat produced by Kyiv.
However, this price increase is not entirely due to the war in Ukraine. “Overall, this inflation is linked to events that occurred in 2021, in particular the coronavirus pandemic which led to higher transport and packaging costs. There is always a latency period between the increases in the prices of raw materials and their repercussion in the points of sale”, explains in Le Figaro Emily Mayer, who works at IRI.
How do consumers react? Several major brands, such as Carrefour, Auchan or Casino, are noticing both a drop in the number of purchases but also cheaper products consumed more significantly. A situation that does not stop at France: according to the German commercial research institute IFH, 30% of the population says they want to limit their purchases, food products included.