French retailers will be allowed to tailor pricing packages at the start of the financial year under government plans announced yesterday (28 April).

The proposals, unveiled by French finance minister Christine Lagarde, are designed to put an end to year-end discounting.

However, the reform package has met with fierce criticism from French food manufacturers.

Jean-Réné Buisson, president of industry body ANIA, said: "We are confronted with a very serious and worrying phenomenon, particular for small and medium enterprises."

While Lagarde's package does contain recourse to the law in the event of commercial abuse, the plans have sparked an impromptu alliance between food manufacturers and primary food producers, who are scrambling to mobilise an effective damage limitation exercise.

France's main farmers' union has slammed the "injustice and iniquity" behind the proposals.