Under fire, French government probes soaring retail prices
French government launched a nationwide probe on Tuesday to pin down responsibility for soaring retail price.
PARIS, Feb 27, 2008 - The French government launched a nationwide
probe on Tuesday to pin down responsibility for soaring retail prices, partly
blamed for President Nicolas Sarkozy's brutal collapse in popularity.
The state competition authority started analysing the prices of 20 staple
food products in France's six main retail chains, as Sarkozy had promised
during a field trip, to combat "abnormal" price hikes.
An official report has recorded hikes of five to 48 percent on everyday
supermarket produce such as milk and yoghourt, pasta, rice and ham, between
November and January, fuelling consumer anxieties about the cost of living.
The government has suggested that food manufacturers and retail chains were
as much to blame for high prices, which sit five to 30 percent above the
European average, as the global rise in food costs.
Voter concerns about low spending power -- a key theme in Sarkozy's
election campaign, now seized upon by the opposition Socialist Party -- have
been blamed for precipating his tumble in popularity since the end of last
The latest poll released at the weekend showed Sarkozy's approval rating
plummeting to 38 percent, a drop of nine points in a month, and an all-time
low since his election last May.
Municipal elections next month are shaping up as a test of Sarkozy's
popularity, with his rightwing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party
expected to fare badly against the Socialists.