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Restaurant vouchers: “The government is sending a very bad signal to our profession,” says Thierry Marx

The standoff continues.

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Restaurant vouchers: “The government is sending a very bad signal to our profession,” says Thierry Marx

The standoff continues. Michelin-starred chef Thierry Marx, president of the main employers' union in the hotel and catering industry, Umih, asks this Thursday to be received "as soon as possible" by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, while Bercy is considering perpetuating the possibility of 'buy all types of food products at the supermarket with meal vouchers.

“With its about-face on extending the use of meal vouchers to food products, the Government is sending a very bad signal to our profession,” he laments. “In meal voucher, there is “restaurant”. This title must remain a lunch aid for employees who do not have a company restaurant. It must not become a shopping cart title,” continues the chef.

“I ask to be received as soon as possible by the Prime Minister to express our incomprehension, our dissatisfaction and our desire for a rapid return to the situation preceding the 2022 law,” he adds.

The law introduced in 2022 the possibility of purchasing non-directly consumable food products (flour, pasta, rice, eggs, fish, meat, etc.) in supermarkets with meal vouchers, an exemption which was to end on December 31 2023.

But faced with the outcry caused by the end of the system, Bercy announced its wish to extend it in 2024, or even make it permanent. “In 2023, there will be a shortfall of 200 million euros for our restaurateurs,” estimates the chef, recalling “that in 2023, mass distribution saw its meal voucher market share increase by more than 6 %” when “that of restaurants decreased by 3%”.

On the sidelines of a trip to Indre-et-Loire, the Minister for SMEs and Commerce Olivia Grégoire responded on behalf of the government: “we are and we will be alongside the restaurateurs”. But “we also need to hear the French. Food inflation (...) remains quite high” and the possibility of continuing to use meal vouchers for food purchases in general “is a good freedom”, she added. “Restaurateurs need to hear it and I have no doubt that Thierry Marx will hear it,” concluded Olivia Grégoire.

In his press release, Thierry Marx said he heard “the voices that express themselves about the usefulness of this title, in times of inflation, for daily shopping.” “Inflation concerns all French people. The rise in prices also impacts our restaurateurs,” he argued, calling on the government to “design a food voucher or a food check to fight inflation and help the most disadvantaged.”

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