“Demagogic”. This is how some unions in the wheat sector reacted after Michel-Edouard Leclerc’s announcement. On Tuesday January 11, the boss of the Leclerc stores indicated that he was freezing the price of baguette bread in the group’s shops at 29 euro cents – or even up to 23 cents – for at least four months, on behalf of the defense of the purchasing power of the French in an inflationary context.
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A declaration of war for the entire wheat industry. Cereal workers, millers and bakers, as well as the FNSEA, the leading agricultural union, denounced in a joint statement “prices deliberately destroying value”.
They are indignant at this announcement while “the prices of cereals and consequently of flour, are experiencing high prices, that production costs (salaries, etc.) are rising sharply and that the average price of baguettes in France in 2021 according to INSEE is €0.90 ».
This announcement, which comes at a time when the sectors and the government“work to remunerate farmers fairly” and or “the know-how and quality of the French baguette are in the process of being recognized by Unesco”, caused an uproar.
“Preserving jobs and quality”
“We seek to preserve employment and quality, this has a cost: the players must be properly remunerated, those who plant, who harvest, who assemble the grains and make the flour, and those who make the bread. What Leclerc is doing is shameful”, Jean-François Loiseau, president of the National Association of French Milling, told AFP.
“Michel-Edouard Leclerc will have to explain to us how and how much he pays bakers with a baguette at 29 cents”, reacted for her part Christiane Lambert, patron of the FNSEA. While wheat prices have increased by around 30% in one year, François Loiseau wonders “where the Leclerc group buys its flour” and “on which products it will compensate”. In addition, Michel-Edouard Leclerc “cut prices” in the particularly tense context of annual negotiations between producers and distributors, underline the players in the sector.
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The boss of the Leclerc stores did not hide it: “Flour suppliers have relied heavily on the rise in wheat prices, to demand considerable increases”, he said on BFM-TV on Tuesday, defending his choice on a ” flagship product “, “inflation marker”, as it had done for fuel a few months ago.