A Shopping Cart circled with the words “Anti-Inflation Quarter”: This tricolor logo has just hit supermarket shelves. Announced with great fanfare by the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire, the agreement reached between the government and distributors to “protect the French against food inflation” took effect this Wednesday, March 15. Intermarché, Carrefour, Lidl and the other brands – with the exception of Leclerc – have committed to charging a number of products at the lowest possible price.

Targeted relief that will not be a luxury for French consumers. When this new operation began, INSEE (National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies) unveiled the final inflation figures for the month of February. Year on year, consumer prices increased by 6.3% (after 6% in January). An increase driven in particular by food (14.8% after 13.3% last month). Vegetables, fruits, bread, meat, cheeses, confectionery, drinks… On almost all items, food inflation continues to rise and household receipts continue to increase.

A rise that could continue at least until the end of spring. In its economic note also published on Wednesday, the statistics institute certainly expects inflation to ebb by the end of the first half of 2023, thanks to the fall in energy prices. But food prices could climb as much as 15.4% year on year in June, despite lower global commodity prices.

A forecast that still remains shrouded in uncertainty. What will be the impact of the trade negotiations that have just been concluded between suppliers and distributors? “We believe that it will not be immediate, but rather gradual, replies Olivier Simon, head of the economic syntheses division at Insee. But everything will depend on the disposal of stocks already purchased and the measures taken by distributors to mitigate price increases. Another unknown: will manufacturers continue to rebuild their margins after being forced to compress them in 2021?

While waiting for the end of the storm, the consumer adapts. In its note on the economy, INSEE also delved into changes in consumer behavior. After energy, food is the expense item where the French have changed their habits the most to save money (54% of households surveyed).

41% of them consume less, while a quarter of the households surveyed have moved towards new brands or new product lines. The first concerned are obviously the youngest, the most modest, and families with children. No doubt those who will first look for products bearing the tricolor logo.