The “yellow vest” protests: a problem for French salmon

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As France’s gillet jaunes (yellow vests) take over the streets again this weekend, SalmonBusiness wonders how it will affect the country’s salmon sales.

The French capital is preparing for a fourth weekend of gilets jaunes protests strikes this weekend. The Eiffel Tower and Louvre will shut amid fears of violence and authorities are deploying 89,000 security personnel across country.

Unrest
The preparations come after the city saw the worst civil unrest in 50 years last Saturday. The protests were fueled by rising diesel costs amid mass criticisms of President Emmanuel Macron’s programme of economic reform.

French smokehouses are up against it this festive season with back to back to orders. So busy, that many of them gave quick “nons!” to requests to talk to SalmonBusiness about the effect of the “gillet jaunes” on their trade.

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But it is having an effect. On Sat 17 November, France’s hypermarchés and supermarchés saw a 35% drop in overall sales (not salmon specific) overall on average impacted by protests, according to the latest data from Nielson. As Paris is on lock-down, each region told a different story. For example Ile de France (Paris) fared better than most at -14% while the most affected areas were Champagne and Alsace with a 57% decline in sales.

Last saturday was slightly less worse with a drop of 8% on average, which was attributed by consumers adapting their behavior to avoid protests.

Concern
Pascal Goumain, owner of Saumon De France, France’s only sea salmon farm told SalmonBusiness he was concerned about the impact it was having on his customers.

Saumon De France CEO Pascal Gouman PIC: Saumon De France

“Our mass-market customers are experiencing big declines, especially hypermarkets (-20% on average). Wholesalers too because of fewer tourists. It musn’t last long!” Salmon De France is a premium niche so there hasn’t been much of an impact on us,” he said.

Sebastian Roussell who is managing director of major salmon supplier, Direct Océan, said that “it’s not had an impact on us. It’s more on the consumer level – shopping centres and outlets are blocked. They can’t sell their produce.”

We will have to wait for the data (especially after Saturday) to see just how much of a chunk the protests took of France’s favourite festive dish (68% of the population will eat it at some point at festivities).

It’ll blow over soon
Jeremy, a fish monger from the Poissonnerie T’kint in Versaille (Île-de-France) region shrugged it off in true Gallic fashion.

“It doesn’t really hit me here in Versaille, but a for a lot of people are who in the centre of Paris, it will. This Saturday may be a problem over there. But deliveries are still going on. But like all things in France, it’ll blow over soon,” he added.