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INFLATION – Like coffee, grain or oil, toilet paper is damaged by inflation. Consumer prices continued to rise in April in France, mainly affecting food (3.8% in one year), fuels, gas and electricity.
Less cited but equally essential, products related to hygiene and beauty have also been affected by this lightning-fast price increase 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 to Grégory Caret, director of the UFC Que Choisir Consumer Observatory, who deciphered this price change in the hygiene and beauty department.
More than 6.3% in the space of a year
Selon le taux d’inflation mensuel, désormais publié chaque mois par UFC Que Choisir, les produits d’hygiène ont vu leurs prix s’envoler en avril 2022 avec une hausse de 6,3% par rapport au même mois l’année last. For Grégory Caret, this trend was particularly rapid: “The change in the prices of products related to hygiene and beauty took place in just two months”.
A significant increase that is already causing a phenomenon of “hygienic precariousness” for a certain number of French people. After the passage of the health crisis, which has now been followed by unprecedented inflation since the mid-1980s in France, some consumers have to work harder and prefer to give up on buying these products to save on the basket rush.
According to an Ipsos study for the Observatory on new consumption E. Leclerc 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 give up on beauty expenses,” indicates the study.
For financial reasons, 11% of French respondents say they often have to give up soap, 12% toothpaste or toothbrush, 13% shampoo and 14% deodorant.
As for the flagship product, toilet paper, will always remain essential for families, but it is bearing the 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 Pulp Industries (Copacel), “in one year, in total, the costs in the paper sector sanitation increased 20-40% and the upward trend continues ”.
Multiple reasons intertwined
But where does this sudden outburst come from? To explain this, Grégory Caret does not have a single answer. “Inflation is in the air. With Covid-19 there have been no direct and immediate repercussions, but the effects are only now coming through more channels “.
First of all, the hygiene sector suffered, like the other sections of our shops, the repercussions of the war in Ukraine. “Ukraine is a big producer of oils and grains, and they don’t just end up in your bowl in the morning, but in many beauty and personal care products. As for Russia, it is an important supplier of oil, so the repercussions are direct on the price of the packaging of these products where very often the plastic contained in the packaging is essential ”, he explains.
But the conflict in Eastern Europe does not stop there, as hydrocarbons, essential for the transformation of some products, are also suffering this inflation. A cocktail that is also damaging 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 snowball inflation. Another essential fact: the health context in China and its strict health measures, cause in fact a blockade of Asian ports and therefore congestion of international maritime traffic.
“The supply difficulties during the health crisis and the intense restart of global transport that followed the end of the crisis caused a rush for raw materials. All these reasons, added to the shortage of paper pulp, have been intertwined in recent months with the increase in energy prices to reach the prices we know today ”, sums up Grégory Caret.
“Forget cheap products”
To this we must add one last fact, that of climate change. “This inflationary environment is not destined to disappear or to be absorbed, nor are droughts and floods.” The direct consequences of global warming “cause poor harvests around the world and have a lasting impact on all global production,” said the director of the UFC Que Choisir Consumption Observatory.
Enough to draw a very boring conclusion. “We will gradually have to forget about low-cost products, as has happened in the last ten years in a climate of price war between the operators of large retailers”, observes Grégory Caret. However, he would like to add a note of optimism: “We have to greet the government price freeze to curb inflation in France. Especially because compared to some of our neighbors we are doing relatively well ”.
“Qu’il s’agisse du papier toilette ou des produits alimentaires, il va progressivement falloir apprendre à s’adapter, en adoptant de bons reflexes et en ayant une approche plus pragmatique dans notre manière de faire les courses”, ajoute-t- he. To do this, he advises, for example, to buy raw materials, which are cheaper, despite inflation, to “rediscover old habits, long abandoned”.
See also on The HuffPost: Australian authorities no longer want to fight over toilet paper