The movement is a response to the long-term squeeze that big retailers have been able to put on suppliers in many developed economies over the past two decades. The competition for space in supermarkets is so intense that farmers often find themselves accepting derisory prices for their produce.
In Paris last week angry farmers blocked roads and faced off against police as 1,000 tractors from across northern France tried to converge on the Champs-Élysées in a protest aimed at putting pressure on supermarket chains ahead of annual price talks.
Demanding an urgent meeting with President Emmanuel Macron and government action against falling supermarket prices, rising costs and cheap imports, unions said in some regions one in three French farms were operating at a loss or only just breaking even.
The basic assumption by supermarkets is that all consumers want competitively priced produce. The cheaper, the better. CQLP might have just rewritten that rule.
In just three years, CQLP has won over nearly 11.5 million French consumers – about one in five adults. It has also boosted the incomes of more than 3,000 farmers and manufacturers, all of whom benefit from the pledge emblazoned in big, bold capitals on the brand’s packaging: “This product pays its producer a fair price.”
“I have to say this doesn’t feel like a fad,” said Chabanne, 50, who talks with almost evangelical conviction about the movement. “I do think we’re talking here about a fairly profound shift in consumer attitudes – a realisation, essentially, that the big supermarket chains had forgotten what really matters.”