Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
“We cannot make our customers bear this increase, so we must be able to pay less”
Europe’s largest market is not immune to inflation and wholesale customers suffer. Thus, to ensure its sustainability, they engage in a real commercial battle every morning. Yassin, trader on Belleville market in the 20thAnd village, takes us into his daily life, a Rungis.
It’s three o’clock, Rungis wakes up… Even if the capital of wholesalers never really sleeps. For greengrocers, on the other hand, everything happens in the middle of the night. In shed “C2”, dedicated to fruit and vegetables, the colorful fruit and vegetable stalls contrast with the gray of the building. Even the merchant mine is pale. It’s not the joy right now with galloping inflation.
Months of price increases that are still struggling to collect: “How much, 1.60 per kilo of onions?, afflicts Yassin, one of Rungis’s regular wholesale customers. It’s too much, it still took 15% in recent days. »
The dance of negotiations
“We can’t make our customers bear this increase, so we have to be able to pay less,” he explains, recovering from his surprise. For him, leaving means negotiating. A surprisingly staged ritual, a formidable duel between a wholesaler and our merchant. It all starts with a firm and friendly handshake: in Rungis everyone knows and respects each other. So in front of Benjamin, the wholesaler of the brand You comeYassin asks about the price of zucchini.
“One euro seventy per kilo! “, she sways her, before stretching her index finger down. A sign known to regular customers. Newbies, who hover like vultures around the deal, won’t pick it up but, with this simple gesture, the price has just dropped by ten cents. A discount that Yassin obtained thanks to his 25 years of experience in the market. Done deal. He leaves with several tens of kilos of top-of-the-range, well-sized, imperial-green zucchini.
A well-oiled strategy…
Because here the beautiful look is essential. For traditional vegetables – such as the famous courgettes – the top of the range comes from France. The mid-range comes from Spain and the entry-level is Moroccan. This also applies to carrots. In this regard, admits Yassin, its direct competitor in Belleville only chooses the best arrivals.
“The day it doesn’t sell in Belleville, I know I can get carrots from Spain and make a little more money. But, on other days, I have to line up with his choices,” he laughs, his blue-gray eyes full of mischief. Tricks like that, the merchant pulls dozens out of the basket. more important, to keep his business afloat.
…and parallel activities!
Further on, in pavilion C2, crates of exotic fruit are scattered on the floor. A light Mediterranean fragrance emerges and warms patrons in the cool night air. It is here that Yassin meets his friend Franck, another regular customer of the market. The two men discuss their little business. “Two potato wedges against my laundry detergent box, are you okay?” offers Franck. The deal is done quickly and, soon, the cans will be waiting for Yassin in front of his trailer.
This sideline is essential for some traders to make ends meet. Here official negotiations sometimes give way to these small agreements passed under the cloak. Between the devils and the palettes, it’s not uncommon to hear a conversation about a Japanese whiskey sold four times cheaper than in the store or a pack of cigarettes for five euros.
With pallets loaded into the bottom of his truck, Yassin heads back to his booth at the Belleville market. We’ll have to hurry and unload everything and get ready because it’s almost five. And Paris wakes up.
The price increases on a basket of vegetables in one year (prices expressed in HT), from Market News Network