France to ban “buy one, get one free” offers on foodstuff

PARIS (Reuters) – France plans to ban “buy one, get one free” offers on
food products in supermarkets to guarantee better income to struggling
farmers, in a move that could also test President Emmanuel Macron’s
free-market credentials.

The move is part of a wider food and farming bill, presented to cabinet
on Wednesday, which aims to raise regulated minimum food prices and
limit bargain sales in France, the European Union’s largest farm

Farmers, an important constituency in French politics, have long

complained about being hit by a price war between retailers that they
say benefits consumers but hurts producers.

“It will be a breath of fresh air for retailers, who will be able to
trim their margins on other products and pay producers better,”
Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert told reporters, adding that
non-food products would not be affected.

Banning “buy one, get one free” bargains, which are less common in
France than in countries such as Britain, will also help fight against
food waste, he said.

The proposed legislation will effectively prohibit “buy one, get one
free” offers by barring supermarkets from making discounts of more than
34 percent. But “buy two, get one free” discounts would still be
allowed, Travert said.

Eight months into Macron’s presidency, the move shows the new
government’s interventionist instincts despite the 40-year old
president’s campaign promises to cut red tape and liberalise the French

But it comes after hefty discounts of up to 70 percent on products such
as Nutella, a chocolate-and-hazelnut spread very popular in France,

caused brawls in a chain of supermarkets last week.

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he had complained to
the chief executive of the Intermarché supermarket chain, where shoppers
again fought over discounted products earlier this week, this time for
diapers and coffee.

“I told him this can’t happen again, that we can’t see these kind of
scenes in France every five minutes,” Le Maire said.

Intermarché did not immediately return a request for comment.

Selling at a loss is forbidden in France. The new measures, which also
include a 10 percent increase in the regulated threshold at which
retailers are allowed to sell a product, will be put in place for a
trial period of two years.

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