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Money in France

Food Prices in Rural France

Tuesday 03 February 2009

Food prices in rural France rose by only 0.46% last year, according to a survey carried out by a French consumer’s association.

In the three years that the survey has been carried out, prices of leading brands in stores have remained stable (actually going down by 0.44% last year), whilst store branded items had increased by 7%, and economy products by 12% over the same period.

Nevertheless, the low value basket of items was still around 40% cheaper than a commensurate basket of leading brands.

The average price of the basket of leading brands was €165, that of supermarket own brands €134, whilst the basket of economy products came in at nearly €100.

The survey was conducted by the association Familles Rurales, a body which has been in existence for over 60 years, and counts nearly 200,000 members and 20,000 staff.

Each year since 2006 they have conducted a nationwide survey of the price of a basket of 34 food and household products from 13 different product categories.

The products include milk, eggs, desserts, jam, pate, biscuits, water, baby products, cleaning products, hot drinks, and fruit juice.

They do not include meat and vegetables although a separate survey is carried out for the latter. To this extent the survey is an incomplete picture.

Coincidentally, Que Choisir, the main consumer's organisation in France, recently published a study of meat prices, and found that, whilst prices to the producer had actually gone down in the last 18 years, prices to the consumer had gone up.

The figures from Familles Rurales do contrast with those recently published by the French national statistics office INSEE, which showed food prices in France went up by 3.2% last year.
 
Whilst the INSEE figures are more comprehensive, they tend to slant towards prices in the metropolitan areas of France, where prices are higher. The beauty of the Familles Rurales survey is that is focuses exclusively on prices in the French countryside.
 

The goods purchased by Familles Rurales were from food stores located in 21 departments of 14 regions of France.

Contrary to what may be normally perceived, the researchers found that there was really no advantage in buying economy products from ‘hard-discount’ stores, as the prices of such products was just as cheap in hypermarkets. In supermarkets they were even marginally cheaper.

Another interesting result from the survey were the regional differences in prices. Thus, whilst the price of a basket of own brand items in the Vosges was €159, the same basket cost €121 in Maine-et-Loire.

Food Prices 2008 by Department
Vosges€159Gironde€128
Ardennes€143Calvados€128
Orne€139Drôme€128
Marne€136Eure€128
Indre€134Haute-Vienne€126
Nord€132Charente€125
Somme€131Morbihan€125
Saône et Loire€130Hérault€124
Isère€129Landes€124
Lot et Garonne€129Côtes d'Armor€122
Maine-et-Loire€122


The same differences appear with leading branded and economy products, although the rankings do differ.

Overall, from amongst those areas in the survey, Maine-et-Loire seems to be the cheapest place to live, for all types of products. It also had the cheapest economy basket of products, coming in at €90.

The association undertook separate surveys on the price of bread and milk.

Prices of bread had increased by 4% in the stores, and by 11% in the boulangerie. Whilst a baguette cost €0.82 from the latter, it cost an average of €0.42 from a store.

Prices of milk products either went down in the hypermarkets, whilst those in the ‘hard-discount' stores rose marginally.

The separate analysis from INSEE of the movement in food prices in France over the past 12 months is shown below.

Consumer Food Prices Index - 2008
Products% Variation 12 months
Bread and Cereals+ 4.8
Meat+ 3.4
Fish and Shellfish+ 2.2
Milk, Cheese, Eggs+ 4.9
Oils and Fat+ 4.4
Fruit- 1.4
Vegetables+ 1.4

Sugar, Jam, Chocolate,

Ice creams, Confectionery

+ 2.5
Salt, Spices, Sauces and others+ 4.6
Coffee, Tea, Cocoa+ 2.2
Other Alcohol-free beverages+ 2.9
Food and Alcohol-free Beverages+ 3.2

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