France adopts food bill, retailer says will lead to price rises

France’s parliament has given final approval to a “field-to-fork” law aimed at raising farmers’ incomes, improving food quality and fighting waste. However, opponents say it will push up consumer prices and will only benefit retailers.

The bill was a campaign promise of President Emmanuel Macron aimed at appeasing farmers, a large and important constituency in France. Farmers have long complained of being hit by low margins and retail price wars. One of the main elements of the bill is to regulate minimum prices and limit bargain sales in supermarkets.

The government said it hopes that by increasing retailers’ margins on one side, they will accept to raise the amount they pay to producers on the other.

“It’s a scam!” Michel-Edouard Leclerc, chief executive of supermarket chain Leclerc, France’s largest food retailer by market share, told Le Parisien last week. “There is no link to the income of farmers.”

According to , Leclerc said the bill, which comes after more than one year of debates and is widely supported by other supermarket chains, will lead to a price increase of between 1 and 10 percent on more than 3,000 items.

Most of these products are non-agricultural and often not produced in France, he said, mentioning Coca-Cola, Nescafé coffee and Nutella hazelnut spread. Rather than helping farmers producing milk, eggs,  fruits and other primary products, Leclerc argued the measures would only bolster the profit margins of major manufacturers and retailers.

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