Leclerc stores introduced a new, lower price for baguettes, which are now sold for EUR 0.29. Lidl France joined to match this selling price soon after. This price will be maintained across France for at least four months going forward, a decision that sparked controversy, with industry associations deeming the price freeze as a “destructive campaign”. The average price of a baguette in France is EUR 0.90. Competitor Intermarché sells the cheapest baguette for EUR 0.49, while Carrefour’s 250g baguette starts from EUR 0.45.
The chain’s President, Michel-Édouard Leclerc, confirmed the price freeze. In a post on Twitter, he said: “Yes, blocking the price of the baguette at EUR 0.29 is quite a symbol! The baguette is a benchmark for the evolution of prices and purchasing power for consumers. Leclerc’s pricing is meant as a symbolic gesture to signal that its prices would stay low despite rising raw material costs. This has been the price for a baguette in the supermarket chain for the past year.
Oui, bloquer le prix de la baguette à 0,29 euro, c’est tout un symbole ! La baguette est un repère de l’évolution des prix et du pouvoir d’achat pour les consommateurs : investir sur ce marqueur permet de rassurer sur notre capacité à rester accessible au plus grand nombre. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/G4DAOAkIhI
— Michel-Edouard Leclerc (@Leclerc_MEL) January 12, 2022
The pricing has sparked controversy, with industry associations deeming the price freeze as a “destructive campaign”, according to a press release signed by the national farmers’ union FNSEA, the National Association of French Milling (ANMF), the National Confederation of French Bakery and Pastry shops (CNBPF), the organization representative of the French cereals sector Intercéréales and the General Association of Wheat Producers (AGPB).
“Even though the prices of cereals, and consequently of flour, experience high prices, production costs (energy, wages, etc.) are growing strongly and that the average price of the baguette in France in 2021, is 0.90 euro, according to INSEE, the Leclerc group announces deliberately destroying values. Even though the government and all sectors are working to pay farmers fairly, Leclerc launches a campaign destructive of values for all the links in the French cereal industry,” the associations decried.
Despite the reactions from the French industry, Lidl France followed Leclerc’s lead ‘for a product as emblematic as the baguette’, and matched the selling price one week later.
Executive director of Lidl France, Michel Biero, said in an interview with RMC: “When a leading French supermarket positions itself on a price for a product as emblematic as the baguette, the whole industry will follow it.” He also expressed his regret for the move, which he saw as “not very responsible”, contributing to a price was that destroys values. Ten years ago, baguettes costed around EUR 0.35 in French supermarkets, he highlighted.
🎙 “On aligne le prix de notre baguette sur Leclerc mais à regret. Ce n’est pas très respectueux. C’est une guerre des prix destructrice de valeurs. Ce n’est pas très très responsable”.
— RMC (@RMCinfo) January 20, 2022
Prices for wheat, flour, energy, salaries and packaging products are “on the red”, warned the Confédération Nationale de la Boulangerie Pâtisserie Française, but even a EUR 0.10 increase in the baguette’s sale price would be a lot, its president, Dominique Anract, said in an interview. In 20 years, the price of the baguette has only risen by EUR 0.23.