This movement initiated around April 20 with the slogan "Do not hurt my pocket" and launched anonymously on social networks is mainly against AFRIQUIA gas stations (whose Minister of Agriculture Aziz Akhannouch is the largest shareholder), the mineral water SIDI ALI (owned by Miriem Bensalah, former President of the Moroccan employers) and DANONE milk, all accused of abusing their hegemonic positions to sell their products too costly.
The movement, which has grown considerably, affects a lot of cities in the country. It is in line with various social movements brought about by poverty, which have been going on for two years. A UN report published in 2016 estimated that 60% of the people in Morocco can be considered as poor people.
Moroccans suffer from poor standards of living; their purchase power would be about a quarter of the Spanish one, according to a World Bank report released in October, which estimated that their standard of living was equivalent to "the French one in 1950". Currently, the average salary does not exceed 350 euros in the country and the equivalent of the SMIC is nearly 120 euros.
The country, however, experienced strong growth last year (4%), controlled inflation and inflows of foreign investment much higher than its neighbors. But unemployment still affects more than one in four young people, and up to 43% in urban areas. The labor market in this country of 35 million inhabitants has to absorb nearly 500,000 young people a year, young people who regularly show their anger, especially in the Rif region for the last twenty months.
Central Danone, the subsidiary of the French group has seen its turnover dive 50% in six weeks, following this protest against the cost of living.
This move is quite damaging for Centrale Danone, the local subsidiary of the group, accused of selling its products too costly. Listed on the Casablanca Stock Exchange, it expects a significant drop in sales and net income in the first half of 2018.
Traders and restaurateurs are now reluctant to buy Danone products. They are afraid not to be able to sell them.
Facing this situation, which the Moroccan authorities consider "worrying", without being able to control it, Centrale Danone has decided to significantly reduce (30%) its collection of milk from its 120,000 farmers and put an end to nearly 900 interim contracts. Fearing to lose their jobs, hundreds of Central Danone employees have demonstrated in front of the Parliament in Rabat in recent days. It is also considered that the farmers who deliver Danone lost a third of their income with this boycott. The loss of income will be particularly painful for small breeders.
Danone's Boss, Emmanuel Faber went last Tuesday (June 26th) to Casablanca in order to meet breeders, grocers and local consumers. He also ensured on social networks, his willingness to listen and understanding the phenomenon.
In Morocco the movement is taken very seriously as no one sees reason for stopping the boycott. Those who feed it say they will not stop until they get a price cut for their products. This movement, according to some, is also indicative of a growing mistrust of political parties, perceived as defenders of an economic caste that no longer carries the voice of voters.
Source: Les Ãchos
Photo credit: AFP