A fanfare inauguration of the traditional commercial negotiations, which will decide the prices offered in the coming months in supermarkets. The CEO of Coca-Cola Europacific Partners (CCEP), whose famous soda is among the three best-selling drinks in France, announces to our colleagues in Le Parisien a 7% increase in the gross prices offered to distributors of its various products. “Please note, this does not mean that our products will increase by the same amount, since we will negotiate this figure with large retailers. Then, each distributor will be free to make more or less margin on this or that product, before setting the final price,” warns François Gay-Bellile, the boss of Coca-Cola France.
This request for a price increase comes a few days after Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy and Finance, announced the end of “the inflationary crisis”. An observation on which the representatives of mass distribution generally agreed. Questioned by Ouest-France on Sunday, Dominique Schelcher, who chairs the Système U stores, agreed with the minister, while affirming that “the French are on top of what they can bear”. A sort of warning issued to manufacturers at the start of these key negotiations that the government has decided to move forward by a month in the face of the urgency of seeing prices fall.
The French manager of Coca-Cola, one of the largest industrial groups present at the negotiating table, somewhat dampens everyone's enthusiasm. “There is still quite a bit of inflation,” he says. Certainly, packaging (plastic and aluminum in particular), which had reached peaks, has fallen slightly. But sugar is still rising sharply, like salaries – which we have reevaluated by 5% in 2023. And then, for example, we are using more and more recycled PET (a type of plastic), the additional cost of which is around 40% compared to virgin PET,” explains the industrialist.
Dominique Schelcher confirmed on Sunday that sugar prices continued to increase, but drew attention to the considerable drop in maritime transport prices, for example, which underpins world trade. “All these elements can serve as leverage for reductions,” insisted the boss of Système U in Ouest-France, before attacking industrialists who “are taking advantage of this inflationary wave to rebuild their margins.” A reproach evaded by François Gay-Bellile, who estimates that his margin of 12% to 13% is “consistent” with that of his competitors.
Despite this request from the Coca-Cola group to see its prices increase by 7% on the shelves – which remains less significant than last year (20%) – the CEO believes “pay attention to certain psychological thresholds”, starting with “the traditional 1.75 liter bottle” which “must remain less than two euros” while it “is currently around 1.97 cents”. Coca-Cola's proposal in no way governs the outcome of the negotiations and the price which will therefore be offered to consumers from February 1. “It is still too early to know, because everything will depend on the negotiation, then the decisions of the distributors,” says the CEO of Coca-Cola France.