France has submitted plans for new rules to require the country’s retailers to alert shoppers to so-called shrinkflation.

Paris has asked the EU to clear a move that would oblige grocers to tell consumers if a product has been reduced in size but its price has stayed the same.

French business broadcaster BFM said it has seen a draft decree the country’s government has sent to the European Commission.

Under the plans, a retailer would have to state how much a product had been cut in size “directly on the packaging or on a label attached to or placed near this product”.

Loose produce or pre-packed foods sold at variable quantities would not be covered by the plans, BFM said. Stores smaller than 400 square metres would also be exempt.

The European Commission has three months to make its judgment.

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Throughout much of last year, Bruno Le Maire, the country’s Finance Minister, criticised food manufacturers’ pricing amid persistent food inflation, which hit 13.7% in June. President Macron also weighed in, insisting there were “large companies who are sky-rocketing the prices of some of their brands”. The industry pointed to pressure on costs.

A spokesperson for France’s Finance Ministry told Just Food (2 January) today Le Maire and Olivia Grégoire, the country’s Minister for Small Business, “wanted to act quickly” but EU law meant it had to require retailers, not suppliers, to display the information.

The EU is reviewing rules governing the labelling of foodstuffs across the bloc but that process is not expected to be completed until 2026, the spokesperson added.

“Given the European legal framework, the only realistic option in the short term is to make distributors bear this obligation to inform consumers,” the spokesperson explained. “If the Commission makes no comments on the notified draft, then publication in the Journal officiel de la République française may take place at the end of March 2024.”

As part of the EU’s review into food labels, France plans to push for information on shrinkflation to be made available across the bloc. If that were to happen, the responsibility would then fall on manufacturers, the spokesperson added.

In September, major French retailer Carrefour affixed “shrinkflation” signs onto store shelves to point the finger at brands it said were reducing the size of packets but not prices.

Earlier in the year, Intermarché displayed posters in stores highlighting what the retailer said was a move by Findus to increase the price of one of its products while cutting its size.

In November, French parliamentarians backed a government bill to oblige suppliers and retailers to conclude their annual price negotiations by 15 January (in the case of SMEs) and by 31 January (for other suppliers) instead of the usual deadline of 1 March.