French producers “strangled” by supermarkets
The French national federation of farmers’ unions (FNSEA) has been asked to lift meat prices in supermarkets in order to compensate the increase in feed costs that are “strangling” the industry.
Beef producer Pascal Boustoun said production costs had risen 20%, a percentage not reflected in meat prices. “We used to buy soya feed for €300-€320. Now it’s €420. Hay was €100 a year ago, now it’s €200. I used to buy straw for €20, now it is worth €120 delivered in our courtyard. It is not possible; it cannot go on. We producers are being strangled,” he told French radio station Europe 1.
Lamb farmer Nicolas Mousnier told Le Nouvel Observateur that he sells his meat at €6.20/kg, for an end price of €15 to €16 in-store. “Taking into account my margin, as well as the abattoir’s and the co-operative’s, it means that the supermarket keeps the rest, between €7 and €8 a kilo,” he said.
Mousnier added that, without Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidies, he would lose money with every lamb, as production costs him €8.50/kg.
“Big retailers know about our collective anger. In fact, they buy civil tranquillity with a few local partnerships and a bit of promotion. But this local policy is only anecdotal… How can we restore the balance of power? It is not easy, because our union has nothing direct to sell and weighs very little,” he said.
According to Mousnier, retailers tend to present weak or even negative results during negotiations, in order to conceal their real margins – a theory that he said was confirmed by the French food price watchdog.