Inflation: butchers don’t want meat

The family photo makes sense. Gathered this Tuesday on the Esplanade des Invalides, in the immediate vicinity of the National Assembly, butchers-charcutiers from all over the country, who from the Loire, who from Vaucluse, who from Seine-Maritime, pose all smiles, in work clothes, in front of a white banner on which one can read: “The butchers and pork butchers, full of energy, do not want to be lit. “Twenty years since the profession had not been invited to such a national mobilization – since the mad cow crisis, specifies Jean-François Guihard, the president of the French Confederation of butchery-charcuterie, caterers (CFBCT), to the initiative of this gathering in which about 200 people take part. This shows the urgency of the situation, which has become untenable, according to the participants, due to the explosion in the price of energy.

“We were already suffering from the rise in raw materials, such as beef or poultry. For us, the electricity which increases to this point, it is a crushing blow”, alert Denis Ben, the president of the butchers of the Tarn. His energy bill, he says, is about to jump from 1,600 euros to 3,900 euros per month. In the crowd, his brothers and sisters testify to similar trajectories, even stronger. Three-quarters of butchers have seen their energy bill increase by more than 50% since the fall of 2020, according to figures reported to France Bleu on Monday by a representative of the profession in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. It must be said that their activity is particularly energy-intensive: to cool the meat and run the ovens and rotisseries, you need electricity, a lot of electricity. « Everything we produce is permanently linked to energy », summarizes Sophie Cressac, a butcher who scours the Charente markets.

Under these conditions, many people are wondering about the future of their business, especially since they say they have to pass on the increase in their electricity bill to the sale price. “Every week, I have to change my prices. This had never happened to me before. » blows Pierre Nicou, a craftsman in a red apron who works near Les Herbiers, in Vendée. The 40-year-old has already announced to his four employees, including an apprentice, that this time he risks not paying them an end-of-year bonus, even if, he assures, that makes him » heartache « . Other bosses are considering layoffs, and fear having to go out of business if the situation does not improve.

“We have to go back to how EDF worked before. It was going very well at the time. »

Admittedly, the government has put in place a tariff shield and offers public aid to companies to help them hold on. But these devices are conditional on compliance with certain criteria – the tariff shield, for example, only concerns VSEs which have an electricity meter with a power of less than 36 kilovoltamperes (kVA), so that many brands (40% according to CFBCT) cannot benefit from it. The system is too complicated deplores Jean-François Guihard, who calls for simplifying and broadening access to state aid. A demand widely shared among the demonstrators, who add another slogan: the break with the market logic of electricity embodied by the European market. « We produce a lot of electricity in France, so why are prices soaring? asks Pierre Nicou, the Vendée butcher. We have to go back to how EDF worked before. It was going very well at the time. »

Coming to meet the protesters like many other deputies in a scarf, all political stripes included, the national secretary of the PCF, Fabien Roussel, does not say anything else. He who fears a “hecatomb” in 2023, when « People may not be able to pay their bills anymore », calls for tackling « causes » of the rise in prices by finding “energy sovereignty”. « Electricity must become a public service again, so that everyone pays the lowest possible bill! » strikes the former presidential candidate. “People here may not know it, but they are on the left,” jokes for his part the deputy FI of the Somme, François Ruffin. « On the return to the regulated electricity markethe adds, I am convinced that we can form a united front with users, mayors, craftsmen and owners of small businesses. It is a majority option in society. »


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