Why are supermarket shelves empty

In fact, the war in Ukraine is not the only reason for the observed shortage of several weeks.

Throughout the territory, several sections of supermarkets have become empty, or even remain empty. This phenomenon reflects multiple tensions, between consumer anxiety, the war in Ukraine, rising production costs and difficult trade negotiations, against the backdrop of high inflation.

In the aisles, whether for oils, flour or pasta, the same signs of annoyance: How do you make your own cake or mayonnaise without these essentials for consumption?

Industry panelist NielsenIQ notes that product availability has declined since early March, although the trend “needs confirmation in the coming weeks”.

The categories most punished are oils, followed by frozen potatoes, flour, pasta and eggs.

According to NielsenIQ, 3.1% of products have sold out at some point since the start of the year, for an average of 4 days. 60% of this shortfall belongs to the grocery and fresh produce divisions.

Precautionary purchases but not only

For oils, and even flour, the phenomenon of precautionary purchases is fully operational: consumers, alarmed by hearing that the Russian attack in Ukraine could affect stocks of sunflower oil, of which the state is a major exporter, or wheat, decided to expect by Buy more than usual. The supply chain is not tracked.

But this is not the only factor. For eggs, for example, economic factors are added, with the spread of avian influenza, as well as animal feed prices.

“70% of the cost of an egg is animal feed,” explains Jean-Philippe Andre, President of ANIA, the professional organization of agroindustrialists. The latter often comes from Russia and Ukraine, “you have tension in both price and availability.”

This, he adds, also pertains to “meat products,” particularly because of the soybean meal swells that are used to feed poultry, pigs or beef.

Then international supply chains were shaken. Russia and Ukraine are “suppliers of aluminium, glass, and recycled plastic,” says Jean-Philippe Andre. Some brewers or manufacturers who use cans “can see orders within ten days, and have to constantly change their supply.”

If he insists that the French should not “panic”, the representative of the agri-food sector calls for “listening and understanding throughout the sector”.

“Rat Race”

Because this is another component of the current tensions: while the annual negotiations between food manufacturers and supermarkets, which set the prices of many products in supermarkets for the next year, ended on March 1, the government decided to encourage the reopening of discussions in light of inflated costs Production (energy, fuel, packaging for example) and agricultural raw materials.

“Today we sell our pigs at €1.90 per kilo (up from €1.40 per kilo paid in January to the breeder), but due to the increase in input costs, we are losing money,” the head of the first agricultural union recently explained. , FNSEA, Christian Lambert. “Price increase is a necessity.”

Discussions are “a terrible rat race”, she says, always quick to accuse supermarkets of wanting to lower prices. Representatives of the latter, themselves, pose as defenders of the purchasing power of the French, an argument that strikes as much as their primary concern today.

Large distribution representative, FCD General Representative Jacques Creyssel, responded, “Brands have already accepted a certain number of increases,” dismissing criticism from suppliers.

Michel-Edouard Leclerc, Chairman of the E. Leclerc Centers Strategic Committee, estimated midweek on BFMTV/RMC that “it is not only the rise in raw materials that explains the higher price progress”.

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