FoodWatch condems French supermarket chains’ ‘label scam’ pricing strategy

4 May 2020

As French consumers whiz through the aisles to shop for the basic necessities and return to the social distanced safety of their homes, they may not be closely checking labels and can miss the fact that many products are more expensive in larger packaging sizes.

Consumer watchdog FoodWatch alerted shoppers to what it termed a “scam” in pricing strategies, according to a release from the non-profit entity. FoodWatch said when its own research was combined with anecdotal consumer reports, it uncovered evidence that family-sized packages at major retailers in France are actually more expensive than their conventionally-sized counterparts.

FoodWatch condems French supermarket chains’ ‘label scam’ pricing strategy

In large retailers like LeClerc Meaux, Carrefour, Auchan, Casino and Monoprix, prices for the bulk-sized packaging can range from a few cents more to up to 29% more per kilo.

The European non-profit organization said in its release that this practice is likely not connected to the coronavirus pandemic. However, FoodWatch noted that the effects of this pricing strategy, which the organization called “scandalous,” are more pronounced during this period as a result of hurried shopping habits from consumers.

“We consider this practice abusive and we call on distributors to stop without delay,” said Camille Dorioz the campaign manager at FoodWatch. She said that this practice occurs across supermarkets and that “no aisles escape” the price increases for the up-sized packages.

Through its investigation, the non-profit called out 10 different brands that it identified as charging more for bigger packages. Some of the more egregious inflations came from Lustucru long grain rice at Cora Drive Amphion which was 22.8% more expensive per kilo in the larger size, hamburger buns from Jacquet which were 29% more expensive per kilo in large format at Carrefour, and chocolate granola bars from Prince de LU which were 28.7% more expensive for the double packet size at Auchan Guilherand-Granges Valence.

Food Navigator reported that the Fédération du Commerce et de la Distribution disagreed that the pricing differences were intended to confuse customers.

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