France’s Leclerc backs Carrefour in pressuring food producers

LONDON (Reuters) – The chairman of France’s biggest supermarket chain E. Leclerc called on all big consumer goods firms to lower their prices as he weighed in on competitor Carrefour’s decision to drop Pepsico products amid fraught price negotiations.

Grocery retailers in several countries including Germany and Belgium have stopped orders of some products over the last year, a tactic in negotiations that inflation has made more combative.

In a post on LinkedIn, Michel-Edouard Leclerc said: “We must in the coming month convince all these big suppliers who made the mistake of overly increasing their prices, to lower them now, or moderate them.”

France has been gripped by a debate over the price of staples, with retailers claiming producers’ price increases are unjustified. The government has demanded retailers and suppliers finish annual price negotiations in January, two months earlier than usual, as it seeks to lower inflation.

Carrefour said its stores in France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, and Poland would no longer stock products including Pepsi, Lay’s Crisps, Cheetos, and 7up because of “unacceptable price hikes”.

Carrefour has more than 10,000 stores across the five countries according to its 2022 annual report, accounting for more than two-thirds of its global footprint.

In a statement, PepsiCo said: “We’ve been in discussion with Carrefour for many months and we will continue to engage in good faith in order to try to ensure that our products are available.”

The French market as a whole accounted for just 1% of revenues for PepsiCo in 2022 according to Nielsen figures analysed by Barclays.

E. Leclerc did not immediately reply to a request for comment and questions about whether it would also withdraw Pepsico or any other products.

(Reporting by Helen Reid, additional reporting by Richa Naidu and Piotr Lipinski; editing by Barbara Lewis and Elaine Hardcastle)