Exaggerated profits, Greece fines Unilever and Procter & Gamble

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excessive profits Greece

Unilever and Procter & Gamble, under accusation for having made excessive profits in times of crisis, have been fined one million euros each by the Athens government.

Exaggerated profits, the stop in Greece

The inspections conducted by the units of the Greek Interagency for Market Control (DIMEA) have revealed the exaggerated profits of Procter & Gamble Greece Limited and Elais Unilever Hellas SA, in violation of recent consumer protection laws against inflation and ‘greedflation’ ( see next paragraph 2).

We have clarified in every way and in all directions that no one is above the law. We are determined to enforce the law to prevent profiteering and stimulate healthy competition for the benefit of Greek families. 

Everyone must be aware that the situation is critical and families have difficulty accessing basic consumer goods. Tackling inflation – and above all, greed – is first and foremost a question of social responsibility, but also of ensuring the cohesion of society. 

Inspections will continue and fines will be imposed without hesitation. The fight against high prices is continuous and constant. We will not stop‘, thundered Kostas Skrekas, Minister for Development. (1)

Caught between shrinkflation and greedflation

The ‘Corporations’ and the large food distribution chains, in fact, have taken advantage of the crisis triggered by the conflict in Ukraine to inflate profits out of all proportion with two techniques:

– shrinkflation, i.e. the reduction in the quantity of product at the same price, (2)

– greedflation, through generalized or in any case disproportionate increases in prices compared to increases in production costs.

The overwhelming evidence

The phenomenon is spreading across the entire European continent. At the beginning of 2023, a group of researchers from UNITE, the main private sector union in the UK, demonstrated how agri-food operators and giants have more than doubled profits compared to the pre-pandemic level thanks to shrinkflation and greedflation. (3)

The protagonists of these immoral practices are the ‘Corporations’ that operate in the various phases of the supply chains, in the ‘food’ and ‘non-food’ sectors:

  • upstream, the four giants that control 70-90% of the global agricultural ‘commodities’ market, ABCD (Archer-Daniels Midland, Bunge, Cargill and Dreyfus), (4)
  • at the center is big industry, like the giants sanctioned in Greece, but also
  • downstream are the large ‘retailers’, the international consumer distribution chains.

There is no limit to greed

Unjustified increases consumer prices are putting citizens across Europe’s access to healthy foods at risk. In Greece as in other countries where member states have not adopted any measures or have undertaken initiatives of dubious effectiveness, such as the ‘anti-inflation cart’ adopted in Italy on a voluntary basis.

Consumer prices in the euro area they recorded an overall inflation rate of +2023% in May 7 and aaverage food inflation almost double, +13,5%. Processed foods rose by 14,6%, unprocessed foods by 10% (Eurostat, June 2023). The appeal made by SAFE to the European Commission to govern the phenomenon, ça va sans dire, had no results. (5)

Marta Strinati

Footnotes

(1) Greece imposes hefty fines on two multinational companies for excessive profit margins. Athens Macedonian News Agency. 2.11.23 https://www.amna.gr/en/article/772807/Greece-imposes-hefty-fines-on-two-multinational-companies-for-excessive-profit-margins

(2) Marta Strinati. Consumers against shrinkflation and other hidden price increases. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 15.9.22

(3) Marta Strinati, Dario Dongo. Greedflation, the super profits of corporations and supermarkets in the UK with the excuse of inflation. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 17.3.23

(4) Marta Strinati. Rising prices and food crisis in times of war. Background in the iPES FOOD report. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 10.5.22

(5) Dario Dongo. Food inflation, the demands of SAFE Food Advocacy. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 23.6.23

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Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".