Inflation Dictates Rules: Grocery Purchases In France Fell By 11.4%

Farewell, France, the gourmet country: the traditional eating behavior of the French is rapidly changing under the pressure of rising prices.

To somehow cope with galloping inflation, French families must tighten their belts more and more. Food purchases became the most affected item of expenditure in family budgets. According to data published by the French Institute of Statistics INSEE, “from the last quarter of 2021 to the second quarter of 2023, the volume of food purchased by consumers in France dropped by a record 11.4%.” This is an unprecedented decline, unseen since 1980, when the French Institute started collecting and systematizing this type of statistics.
France’s middle-class population is being forced to drastically change their consumer habits: according to an analysis by the sociological agency Nielsen, “one in three French people are now limiting their purchases of food and other essentials.” In addition, to save money, many French families decide to cut down on the number of meals they have.
According to INSEE, the monthly consumer price index in France rose by 0.1% in July 2023 after rising by 0.2% in June. On an annualized basis, consumer prices rose 4.3% in July 2023. The statistical office INSEE also reported a slight slowdown in the growth of food prices (+0.1% in July after +0.3% in June). But at the same time, there was a significant increase in prices for services (+1.5% in July after +0.2% in June), especially for transport, which rose in price by a record 11% in July, after an increase of 1.6% in June. In the second quarter of 2023, the unemployment rate in France reached 7.2%.
Some independent economists, such as François Geerolf, have accused INSEE of “underreporting” inflation in France and cited “more alarming” data from the Eurostat agency. “The consumer price index published by INSEE – after all, the data from this institution serve as a benchmark for almost all indicators in France – underestimates inflation compared to the IPCA level published by Eurostat, according to which the consumer price index in France rose in July not by 4.3%, but by 5%.”
As a reminder, the IPCA (Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices) is a weighted average of the consumer price indices in the EU countries that have adopted the euro.
And finally, the French TV channel BFMTV conducted its own opinion poll: “Due to inflation, many French people have changed their food shopping habits: they first look for discounts and promotions, they buy in supermarkets of large chain retailers where prices are more affordable than in traditional French grocery stores, while the quality of food, unfortunately, takes a backseat.”