Despite French government pressure to reduce prices and amid easing cost inflation, the country’s largest food manufacturers are not “playing the game”, according to grocery major Carrefour.

Speaking to analysts after the release of Europe’s largest retailer’s first-half results, CEO Alexandre Bompard said negotiations with manufacturers have turned out to be “cosmetic” in regard to permanent price reductions despite supply-chain costs linked to raw materials and energy decreasing.

“Most of the discussions with suppliers so far have resulted in promotional campaigns,” he said. “We have seen very little improvement in purchasing conditions for permanent prices.”

The French government last month ordered the country’s 75 biggest food producers – which make 80% of French food – to cut prices. The move was welcomed by grocers, which had criticised consumer goods firms for what they saw as unjustified price hikes.

French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said food manufacturers had agreed to discount the price of hundreds of basic grocery items including pasta, sunflower oil and chicken from this month.

But Bompard suggested not all manufacturers were acting.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData

“To be honest, for the moment I think I would say that suppliers are not really playing the game,” he said. “It’s more a cosmetic negotiation os there is no impact on permanent prices.”

Bompard said negotiations had been more positive with private-label suppliers and, as a result, it has been able to pass on price reductions to consumers.

“But, concerning the national brands, for the moment there is nothing substantial to announce,” he said. “Until the next negotiations next year, we will continue to be in an inflationary environment.”

It was revealed in May that it was pressure from the French government that led to food manufacturers agreeing to earlier-than-planned negotiations with retailers.

Le Maire had met with food industry representatives after he threatened to either use tax measures to recover what he considered to be excessive profits or name and shame companies if they did not accept talks with grocers.

Just Food asked the French Ministry of Finance to respond to Bompard’s claims.

A spokesperson said: “Almost 40 major food companies told us that they have granted, or they will grant, punctual discounts to French retailers, but these discussions could last some time for some of them. Not all the retailers have the same conditions.

“According to our information, this will deal with 1,000 products. Moreover, these discounts could take time to be passed to retail prices: most of them will be granted in September/October; however, for yogurts or pasta, we have observed reduced prices over the past few weeks.

“Ministries are paying attention to the global and concrete effort made by both food companies and retailers to struggle against inflation.”

The Association Nationale des Industries Alimentaires (ANIA), which represents French consumer goods companies, has also been asked for its response.