Food retailers and producers in France will have to wrap up annual price negotiations by 15 January instead of by the traditional 1 March deadline under a bill the French government will send to the parliament on Wednesday (today, 27 September).
Whereas retailers and producers in most countries regularly adjust prices of food and other products, French law stipulates a three-month window when such negotiations can take place - usually between 1 December and 1 March every year.
However, a 10% average increase agreed for this year has locked in high prices in French supermarkets even as global food commodity prices have tumbled.
That has spurred consumers to cut back on purchases and left the government struggling to strong arm retailers and producers to reduce prices.
In the hope of getting lower prices to consumers faster, the government's new bill, which was shared with journalists on Tuesday, moves the deadline for 2024 up to 15 January.
A finance ministry government source said that some companies had not waited for the bill and had already started negotiating since Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said at the end of August that the deadline would be moved forward.
The bill covers companies with French sales of at least €150 million, or €1 billion on a consolidated basis, which effectively includes 75 of the biggest food producers making more than 50% of what French shoppers buy at the supermarket.
Separately, French retailers Carrefour and E-Leclerc said on Tuesday that they would sell car fuel at cost, under pressure from the government to lower prices at the pump following a recent spike in global crude oil prices.