Vegetable prices have increased dramatically in France over the past year, including 40 percent for potatoes, according to a report by a French consumer group released on Monday.
The report by the group Familles Rurales (Rural Families) shows that a kilogramme of vegetables produced through conventional farming is on average 10 percent more expensive than it was last summer, from 18 to 19.80 euros.
The price of a kilogramme of organic vegetables rose by 2 percent during the same period.
Conventionally produced fruit prices fell 4 percent and organic fruit 8 percent, with apples and peaches particularly cheap at 16 percent less than last year.
But the global hike in vegetable prices outweight the decrease in fruits, which means that households are on average paying more for their fresh produce.
Meeting the World Health Organization recommendations of 400g of fruits and vegetables per day now costs between 117 and 222 euros for a family of four living in the countryside – that's up to 18 percent of overall monthly expenses for minimum wage households.
Familles Rurales concludes that eating healthily is “hard” but “not impossible” for low-income families, depending on the products they buy and the stores where they shop.
Hard discount shops guarantee the lowest prices, while organic fruits and vegetable are the most expensive in any supermarket, according to the study.
Some increases were due to weather trends: a cold snap in early spring caused the price of potatoes to jump 40 percent, says Dominique Marnier, president of Familles Rurales.
However, he could not provide an explanation for the 30 percent increase in the price of tomatoes.
Organic produce still more expensive
Although the increase in the cost of organic vegetables was less than for conventional vegetables, the overall cost of organic produce remains much higher.
A family can count on spending 90.79 euros on organic fruits and vegetables in an average trip to the supermarket – almost twice as much as conventional fruit and veg.
Familles Rurales also warns about the environmental and economic consequences of overusing packaging material for organic products.
Organic products are wrapped 57 percent of the time in supermarkets and 78 percent in hard discount shops. This “over-wrap” adds weight that “creates the illusion of a lower price”, according to the report.