The French are very good at protecting their so called rights, especially the French farmers. The latest outrage that they are complaining about is the price of Spanish strawberries being sold in France by the  Auchan group of supermarkets. At 79 cents for 500 g that works out at just 1.58€ a kilo which is not to be sniffed at as a loss leader for the consumer.

Jacques Rouchaussé, the French vegetable producers association’s president, called the offer “a silly policy” and said: “We call on Auchan immediately to stop such ‘slaughter-price’ sales or we will be forced to take action, such as raids on shops, to tell them to stop the nonsense.” Jacques Rouchaussé, the association’s president, called the offer “a silly policy” and said: “We call on Auchan immediately to stop such ‘slaughter-price’ sales or we will be forced to take action, such as raids on shops, to tell them to stop the nonsense.” Looks like more dumping of manure onto supermarket car-parks!

Xavier Masse, president of France’s Association of national Strawberry Producers, said that low prices, such as the Auchan’s “distort the market”. Other stores will follow Auchan’s lead, he said, with will threaten the future of the French strawberry industry as consumers will expect similarly low prices on homegrown fruit – despite higher production costs.

More than half the strawberries sold in France are of Spanish origin, where labour costs are lower and yields are higher. “Spanish plants produce twice as many strawberries as French ones, but the taste is not the same,” Mr Masse said.

I agree with the taste factor, but then again I tend to only buy early strawberries from Spain and French ones later in the season,which have a far better more natural taste later in the year.

I can see where he is coming from in one way as it is expensive to produce early products onto the market, but this is just one chain and next week it will be another loss leader, so why shouldn’t the French consumer gain for once, we are meant to be in a free market and food prices are certainly not going down in price generally.

The French can be canny shoppers, buying what’s in season at the right price, but as the French lifestyle changes there is a convenience factor creeping into how they shop.

It is no secret as to how much EU funds are pumped into French farmers wallets, so why cannot we have a little back with a few bargain prices on foodstuffs. Yes we have to protect the rural way of life to a certain extent, or the countryside would eventually disappear, but surely there must be some give and take and a measure of common sense.