National Assembly adopts text modifying balance of power between supermarkets and suppliers

The text gave rise to a media confrontation of ten days between elected officials and players in large distribution, according to which the measure was likely to worsen inflation.

MO12345lemonde with AFP

The deputies adopted, Wednesday, January 18, at first reading a text experimentally modifying the balance of power between suppliers and industrialists of the food industry on the one hand, and the large distribution of the other, despite the criticisms of major brands, according to which the measure may worsen inflation.

After ten days of media confrontation, in particular with Michel Edouard-Leclerc, the deputies unanimously adopted voters (111 votes for, 37 abstentions) the text of Frédéric Descrozaille, member of the Renaissance presidential party.

Negotiations between distributors and suppliers were at the heart of the debates. The latter offer the 1 er December of each year prices and conditions of sale for their products, starting point for tense discussions until 1 er mars. But according to Mr. Descrozaille, the balance of power is too favorable to mass distribution. “The failure of the negotiations does not interrupt the contract. The buyer continues to place an order, the supplier is obliged to deliver it to the price of the previous year,” he said.

His text originally provided for a reversal of the balance of power: the supermarket which would like to continue to be delivered should accept the prices and the conditions of the supplier. The deputies had added in committee a clause establishing a period of transition from one month with a mediator so that the two parties agree on a notice of commercial rupture or a revival. The text was unacceptable for mass distribution players, who agitated the risk of an increase in prices on the shelves and accused the Institute of Consumer Industries (ILEC), representing many industrialists like Nestlé, Danone or L ‘Oréal, to be at the origin of this measure.

two years of experimentation

The Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, had estimated that the text should be “reworked”. “No brand of traders could oppose rates increases from 10 % to 30 %,” was indignant Michel-Edouard Leclerc. “The industrialists are nice? And we are the bad guys? You can see that behind that, there are lobbies.”

The president of the Renaissance group, Aurore Bergé, in return denounced the “pressure” exerted by Mr. Leclerc on the Assembly, challenging any submission to the lobbies. Asked about her companion, ex-deputy Grégory Besson-Moreau, now a strategy advisor and who was in contact with the Ilec, she claimed to work with “stakeholders in all transparency” and not to be under influence “. During the examination of the text in session, the deputy Descrozaille transformed his measure into an experiment for “two years”. If negotiations fail after three months, the mediator would intervene with the support of the ministry. If the two parties still could not agree, commercial relations would be broken without a delivery obligation.

The deputy Les Républicains Jérôme Nury warned against the establishment of “common rules for completely different actors”, small producers, SMEs and multinationals. Deputies on the right and left and the national rally have argued without success so that the text more specifically protects VSEs and small producers.

The Minister of Industry, Roland Lescure, estimated that a “balance” approaches [has] “and that the rewriting of the text” limits inflationary risk and can allow a supplier to find margins ” . However, he contented himself with giving a wisdom opinion, rather than a favorable opinion for this measure.

/Media reports cited above.