in the back kitchens of a high-risk reform

Should the meal voucher be renamed a trolley check or food voucher? This is one of the major challenges of the reform that Olivia Grégoire, the Minister Delegate in charge of Business, Tourism and Consumption, is preparing to launch, with the aim of examining in Parliament a draft law at the start of the school year.

Officially, the broad consultation carried out for months by the minister and her cabinet has been completed. But, in the back kitchens of Bercy, discussions continue under high tension: because, ultimately, what is more political than the French lunch break? Some 5.4 million lucky people buy their steak and fries, their sandwiches and more thanks to meal vouchers made available to them by their employer: the company or the local authority finances this means of payment to the tune of 50% to 60%. %, the balance being the responsibility of the employees. The State contributes through 1.5 billion euros in tax exemptions.

This market is booming. According to the National Commission for Meal Vouchers (CNTR), the administration which coordinates this system created in 1967, Ticket Restaurant, UpDéjeuner or Pluxee checks issued in 2023 represented a total value of 9.4 billion euros, compared to 6 .8 billion in 2018. But, around the table, relations are tense. There is the exasperation of restaurateurs, who are fighting both to prevent large-scale distribution from taking over and to obtain a limitation on the commissions charged by issuers of restaurant vouchers. The morgue of the four historic players, Edenred, Natixis-Swile, Pluxee (ex-Sodexo) and Up group, convicted of conspiracy in 2019, who are standing together to preserve their bountiful margins. And the frustration of the young shoots, around ten, who dreamed of being the Uber of the meal voucher, but painfully captured 1% of the market.

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From there, tempers heat up… On April 18, at the end of the last round table organized by Bercy, a manager of a historic broadcaster took a start-up to task, in the presence of several witnesses: “We’ve been doing this job for sixty years and it’s not a guy like you who’s going to teach us a lesson”, “Be careful, we’ll take care of you”he would have uttered, adopting a “aggressive posture”according to a complaint for “threats of intentional violence” filed with the Paris judicial court.

What is the origin of these tensions? It all starts with a missed appointment. That of dematerialization, in other words the gradual elimination of paper vouchers – which still represent 30% of payments – in favor of bank cards or applications on the phone.

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