It may have escaped the notice of anyone on holiday to France this year, but French melons, apples, vegetables and so forth are all cheaper than they were in 2013.
The average price of fruit contracted by 12% and that of vegetables by 3%, according to a study by consumers’ rights association Familles Rurales published in La Croix at the end of last week.
The last two years have seen price inflation in this sector in France – particularly last year when there were record prices following a harsh Spring. Now prices are back to 2012 levels according to the poll.
With the exception of the pepper (up by 3%), all fruits and vegetables were down this summer. For a third of the range (including some of the most popular such as apples, melons, peaches, courgettes, lettuce and pears), the reduction was around 20%. The average price per kg of fruits dropped to €3.34, as opposed to €3.78 in 2013.
“It’s a case of things being back to normal, after a precocious Spring and a very nice early summer, which is inclined to boost production, and then followed by a dodgy summer that slowed down consumption,” pushing a trend towards a reduction in prices, explains Dominique Marmier, President of Familles Rurales.
For vegetables, the drop is “limited” however, and prices remain close to the maximum ones from the previous year, with an average price per kg of €2.15 compared to €2.21 in 2013.
Another point that came up in the Familles Rurales survey was “an increase in the range of French fruit and vegetables on offer”, notably in the large-scale distribution centres. Thus, in July, more than three quarters of the prices studied in the supermarkets and hypermarkets were from French fruit and veg. In the traditional markets, 80% of fruit and veg is of French origin.
But out of the 16 products polled, 9 are less expensive when they come from abroad, even though the difference is minimal: i.e. less than or equal to 7c in two thirds of cases.
“French produce perform better in terms of price,” says Mr Marmier, which encourages the consumer to choose them, although he is surprised at the narrowing of the gap between the price of French produce and that of imports, given the difference in production costs – as with Spanish peaches, for example.
In the organic sector, prices are also down – 14% on average for fruits and 11% for vegetables. Prices in this sector are still considerable higher than in the normal market (66% more for fruit and 58% more expensive for vegetables) but the gap is narrower compared to 2013.