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INFLATION – Like coffee, cereal or oil, toilet paper is damaged by inflation. Consumer prices continued to rise during the month of April in France, mainly affecting food products (3.8% over one year), fuels, gas and electricity.
Less mentioned but just as essential, products related to hygiene and beauty have also been impacted by this meteoric rise in prices for nearly a year. Among them, toothbrush, toilet paper, paper towel and other essentials of daily life.
To understand the reasons for this inflation on hygiene and beauty products, The HuffPost spoke with Grégory Caret, director of the UFC Que Choisir Consumer Observatory, who deciphers this price shift in the hygiene and beauty department.
More 6.3% in the space of a year
According to the monthly inflation rate, now published each month by the UFC Que Choisir, hygiene products saw their prices soar in April 2022 with an increase of 6.3% compared to the same month last year. last. For Grégory Caret, this trend was particularly rapid: “The change in prices for products linked to hygiene and beauty took place in the space of barely two months”.
A significant increase which is already causing a phenomenon of “hygienic precariousness” for a certain number of French people. After the passage of the health crisis, which is now followed by an inflation unprecedented since the mid-1980s in France, some consumers have to make ever more efforts and prefer to give up buying these products to save money on their basket. race.
According to an Ipsos study for the E. Leclerc New Consumption Observatory published on April 4, one in six French people is now ready to give up hygiene products as a priority and the figure rises if we focus on products related to beauty: “32% of French people often or very often renounce beauty expenses”, indicates the study.
For financial reasons, 11% of French people questioned say they often have to give up soap, 12% toothpaste or a toothbrush, 13% shampoo and 14% deodorant.
As for the star product, toilet paper, it will always remain essential for households, but is bearing the full brunt of rising prices. As indicated at the beginning of April to Actu.fr Paul-Antoine Lacour, general delegate of the French Union of Cardboard, Paper and Cellulose Industries (Copacel), “in one year, in total, the costs in the sector of toilet paper rose 20-40% and the uptrend continues”.
Multiple intertwining reasons
But where does this sudden outbreak come from? To explain it, Grégory Caret does not have a single answer. “Inflation is in the air. With Covid-19, there were no direct and immediate repercussions, but the effects are only now coming through several channels”.
First of all, the hygiene sector suffered, like the other sections of our stores, from the repercussions of the war in Ukraine. “Ukraine is a big producer of oils and grains, and these don’t just end up in your bowl in the morning, but in many beauty and personal care products. As for Russia, it is a major oil supplier, so the repercussions are direct on the price of the packaging of these products where the plastic contained in the packaging is very often essential”, he explains.
But the conflict in Eastern Europe does not stop there, since hydrocarbons, essential for the transformation of certain products, are also experiencing this inflation. A cocktail that is also harming the entire paper industry, which is particularly dependent on gas and electricity to transform wood into paper. Same observation for the drying of paper pulp, a particularly energy-intensive process.
And despite often less packaging, paper towels, toilet paper, paper handkerchiefs, or sanitary napkins are subject to this record inflation by snowball effect. Another essential data: the health context in China and its strict health measures, causing de facto a blockage of Asian ports and therefore a congestion of international maritime traffic.
“The supply difficulties during the health crisis as well as the intensive restart of global transport that followed at the end of the crisis caused a rush on raw materials. All these reasons, added to the shortage of paper pulp, have intertwined in recent months with the rise in energy prices to arrive at the prices we know today”, summarizes Grégory Caret.
“Forget cheap products”
To this, we must add one last fact, that of climate change. “This context of inflation is not destined to disappear or be absorbed, nor are droughts and floods”. The direct consequences of global warming “cause poor harvests all over the world and have a lasting impact on all global production”, underlines the director of the UFC Que Choisir Consumption Observatory.
Enough to draw up a very dull conclusion. “We will have to gradually forget low-priced products, as has been the case over the past ten years in a climate of price wars among mass retail players,” observes Grégory Caret. However, he would like to add a note of optimism: “We must greet the government price freeze to curb inflation in France. Especially since compared to some of our neighbours, we are doing relatively well”.
“Whether it is toilet paper or food products, we will gradually have to learn to adapt, by adopting good reflexes and having a more pragmatic approach in the way we do the shopping”, adds- he. To do this, he advises, for example, to buy raw products instead, which are cheaper, despite inflation, to “rediscover old habits, long since abandoned”.
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