Price-conscious French consumers are ditching fish, buying cheaper meat and snubbing organic food to save money on purchases, the director of Europe’s biggest food retailer said on Tuesday.

Arrefour chief executive Alexandre Bompard said economists’ debates about when inflation would peak were futile and what mattered was consumers’ new entrenched approach to buying.

“You make choices in favor of lowest prices, sales. I’m not going to buy beef, but the cheapest pork; I’m not going to buy fish; I’m not going to buy organic,” said Bompard.

“This phenomenon is there and it is deep and it is gaining momentum in recent weeks,” he said during a round table at the annual post-summer conference of the French Employers’ Federation of Medef.

He said Carrefour and its competitors in the food industry had adapted to the new frugal mindset with promotional campaigns to freeze prices on a range of everyday products.

Inflation has hit record highs in major economies over the past year, driven first by strained post-COVID supply chains and more recently by soaring energy prices after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February.

Inflation in Carrefour’s home market of France hit 6.8% in July, the highest rate since France began using the European Union’s methodology to calculate data in the early 1990s. 1990.

France has shifted the cost of high inflation off the shoulders of consumers more aggressively than other eurozone countries by capping gas and electricity prices and raising incomes, with wage increases for civil servants and pensioners and subsidies for the poor.

Speaking at the same roundtable, French bank head Credit Mutuel Nicolas Thery said a new inflation regime was taking hold that would leave it well above the Central Bank’s 2% target. European.

“I think we’re going to have inflation around 3% or more,” Thery said, citing companies bringing factories back from overseas after COVID, and the transition to green energy, as reasons.

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