Inflation: distributors, giants of the food industry, producers… are there speculators?

Inflation: distributors, giants of the food industry, producers... are there speculators?

the essential
While inflation remains high in France, accusations against possible “crisis speculators” are multiplying. A common suspicion in times of scarcity and inflation, but what is it really? The Dépêche du Midi answers him.

On June 30, Michel-Édouard Leclerc, president of the Strategic Committee of the E.Leclerc centers, requested on BFMTV the opening of a parliamentary commission of inquiry “on the origins of inflation, on what happens on the price front , from transportation and commodity markets, to the consumer. The head of the French brand estimated that “half of the requested increases” were “not transparent, but suspicious”. What is it really? Are some players speculating on shortages to drive up prices?

“Trap”

In a report published on July 19, the Senate Economic Affairs Committee, which investigated the issue, said it had not observed any “massive phenomenon of suspicious price increases from suppliers.” On the contrary, the parliamentarians point out that the General Directorate of Competition, Consumption and Fraud Repression (DGCCRF) has identified price increases on the shelves by “certain distributors”, while “they had not signed an increase in the price of purchase of the product with the supplier”. Practices “facilitated by the fact that consumers expect to see strong inflation on the shelves anyway.”

Distributors also designated by the main French agricultural union. Christiane Lambert, president of the National Federation of Farmers’ Unions (FNSEA), denounced, this Monday, September 5, before the microphone of our FranceInfo colleagues, “the tricks” of certain retail brands to make “financial optimization”. The latter stated that “[Les distributeurs] they ask for more than they need and charge fines to manufacturers that do not deliver everything”, arguing – figures from the DGCCRF in support – that these fines had cost 200 million euros last year.

Patrick Benezit, deputy general secretary of the FNSEA and breeder in Cantal, is not on the side of the producers that we should look to the speculators: “If it is true that our prices have risen since the beginning of the crisis, this increase is linked to compliance of the principle of non-negotiability of raw materials established by the Ega law. This increase has allowed us to offset part of the explosion in our production costs – operating expenses have increased by almost 30% by farmers – but we still have not we can fully cover them. Take the example of cows, our costs have gone from €5 to €6 when prices have only changed from €4 to €5.”

For Michel Pierre Chelini, professor of economic history, the figure of the speculator in the inflationary crisis is marginal: “In the opinion of most economists, there are few speculators as such. The current inflation is imposed on everyone: on households, on companies, on the State… We do not see a particular place of strategy that is organized to create a cartel of speculators.However, according to the expert, unexpected effects can be created, but these are of the order of insignificant in economic sectors that often they want to reach prices that have risen little in recent years.

The myth of the speculator usually appears in times of crisis: “It must be said that there is a psychological degree in inflation and that issue becomes a theme,” says the historian. If the Government is going to tend, to reassure the population, to present plans or establish actions, other currents will tend to emphasize the fact that there are hoarders or speculators, but we are here in the order of rumor and, sometimes, plausible rumor it can have more impact than an actual truth. benchmarks and public opinion is reassured by pointing to the culprits instead of the causes”.

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