High prices hit the appetite of food-loving French

STORY: France prides itself on taking its food seriously.

But many consumers are now spending less or cutting quality because of high inflation.

A leading statistics agency said Wednesday (May 31) that household spending on food fell year-on-year by a record 10% in April, hitting its lowest level since March 2009.

That followed a near 16% annual rise in food prices in March.

Sandra Hamadouche is a mother of two in Paris.

"Clearly, I go with what's the cheapest, I look at things on sale, especially generic brands. I really compare the prices per kilo or per item, which I I didn't necessarily do before."

Spending less on food is increasingly common in France.

Eight out of 10 French consumers have adapted their food shopping habits in recent months, according to another survey.

Just over half said they had stopped buying certain products altogether.

44% had switched to cheaper products, and cut back mainly on meat and fish.

The rising prices are causing political pressure.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said that while retailers had eased back on hikes, the 75 big food producers that make 80% of what the French eat needed to re-open price negotiations.

"Either the big food companies keep their promises in the coming days, or I will use taxes to recover the profits that they should be passing onto consumers."

The producers say they have had to contend with higher energy prices and wage increases.

But some have scored major profits over the past year.