France's finance minister has urged food retailers to do more to help consumers cope with high prices, as the government leans on them to agree to sell an anti-inflation basket of everyday essential goods at knockdown prices.
"The rise in food prices is a major concern and everyone must take its share, including retailers," Bruno Le Maire told RTL radio.
"The state must do its share but retailers must also do more," he added.
Read More: New Price Negotiation Legislation In France Could Be Credit Negative For Retailers: Moody's
The government wants big retail chains like Carrefour, Casino and the family-owned grocery dynasties Auchan and E. Leclerc, to sell a basket of about 50 everyday items at purchasing price from next month.
However, only smaller chains like the Systeme U and discounter Lidl have thus far agreed to the government initiative.
A number of French retailers, including Carrefour say they have already taken action by blocking prices for a set number of goods for an agreed period of time.
Food Price Inflation
The INSEE official statistics agency forecast last week that food price inflation would remain at 13% over the first half the year.
Food prices were expected to become a bigger driver in coming months of overall inflation, which was forecast nonetheless to ease from 6.0% in January to 5.0% by June.
The finance ministry conducted an investigation into food retailers' margins last year but did not find evidence of price gouging.
News by Reuters, edited by by ESM – your source for the latest retail news. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.