As Bloomberg reports, few countries take food as seriously as France.
So perhaps it came as no surprise to see the French government initially bristled at the news that Canadian convenience-store giant Alimentation Couche-Tard made a $20 billion offer for France’s flagship grocer, Carrefour.
“If this deal continues, food sovereignty comes before everything,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.
While people familiar with the matter later indicated the officials may be trying to buy time to study the deal, Le Maire’s comments underscore a broader anxiety shared by many nations about domestic food security in the time of Covid-19.
The pandemic, which caused supply-chain disruptions and led to empty grocery shelves last year, has spurred several governments to safeguard food imports and local agriculture. Waves of new outbreaks and re-emerging lockdowns have only heightened those concerns.
Adding to the insecurity are soaring food prices that have revived protectionist steps from some of the world’s top exporters. Argentina briefly suspended shipments of corn at the end of last year in a bid to ensure domestic livestock-feed supplies.
In Russia, the world’s top wheat supplier, officials on Friday said a new wheat-export tax will rise even more than expected a few weeks after kicking in, with the country accelerating efforts to cool domestic food prices.