The cost of fruit and vegetables in France is “disconnected from reality” due to artificially high prices and the sale of foreign produce, the president of French vegetable federation Légumes de France has said.
In an interview this week, Jacques Rouchaussé said that the hot summer had allowed supermarkets to dupe consumers into paying prices that were far from the real cost of fruit and veg, and that selling produce from foreign countries was allowing supermarkets to pocket artificially-large profits.
He said: “Supply and demand is unbalanced. There is a disconnect compared to the real price that consumers should have to pay.”
Mr Rouchaussé referenced melons that cost €5.50 each, and tomatoes sold at €8 per kilo.
“Melons today cost between 40 and 60 centimes for the producer, so when we see the cost at €5.50, for me, that’s unacceptable. Tomatoes cost 80 centimes per kilo for the producer. When I see these prices, I fall off my chair,” he said.
He admitted that some products are more sensitive to weather conditions than others, and that some price rises were due to genuine supply and demand, but explained that low prices for producers should translate into low prices for customers.
“Otherwise, it does not encourage [people] to eat vegetables,” he explained. “We know that in recent weeks, because of the climate, we should have seen more people eating more fruit and vegetables, and we are beside ourselves when that doesn’t happen.”
He added: “We have found some supermarkets, such as Auchan and Intermarché, who – because it has been hot outside and the demand high – were [artificially] pumping up their prices.”
Mr Rouchaussé also condemned the sale of fruit and vegetables from other countries, especially in areas of France well-known for similar produce.
He said: “In Nîmes, where there is significant production of melon, we see Moroccan and Spanish melon. That is totally unacceptable. It is because in these countries, the product is cheaper, and when it appears on shelves, in defiance of market prices, that is when we see the third party [supermarkets] pocketing money.”
He concluded: “I would like to see consumers demanding French-grown produce, and, if they see products from abroad, deciding not to buy them.”