Discounted Nutella Sparks Riots in French Supermarkets

Riots erupted in French supermarkets on Thursday when Intermarché reduced the price of Nutella by 70 percent.

Jan. 30, 2018
By Julie Al-Zoubi

Recent News

Riots erupted in French super­mar­kets on Thursday when Intermarché reduced the price of Nutella by 70 per­cent. Scuffles broke out at stores all over France and quickly dete­ri­o­rated into brawls as cus­tomers vied to snap up 35-ounce jars of Nutella, which were reduced from $5.60 to $1.75 as part of a pro­mo­tion.

Police were called in to restore order at Intermarché stores includ­ing the Ostricourt store in north­ern France were des­per­ate Nutella fans became vio­lent in their attempts to snap up the dis­counted spread. Similar scenes report­edly occurred at Intermarché’s Roubaix, Wingles and Marles-les-Mines branches.

A shop­per at the Rive-de-Gier super­mar­ket told Le Progrès, They are like ani­mals. A woman had her hair pulled, an elderly lady took a box on her head, and another had a bloody hand. It was hor­ri­ble.”

Seven hun­dred jars of Nutella were snapped up in 45 min­utes on Thursday morn­ing at Intermarché’s Montbrison store. Jean-Marie Daragon, an employee at the store told Le Progrès that cus­tomers had devised devi­ous ways to get their hands on the dis­counted jars. He said,”Some cus­tomers came the night before the pro­mo­tions to stash the Nutella pots in other places, and thus pre­vent oth­ers from tak­ing them.”

Daragon claimed he had tried to solve the prob­lem by lim­it­ing cus­tomers’ pur­chases to three pots of Nutella but said that con­sumers hastily returned to pick up more. The super­mar­ket had planned to repeat the dis­count on Friday and Saturday.

Intermarché staff at a num­ber of branches were caught up in the Nutella frenzy. At Intermarché in Saint-Cyprien, south­ern France peo­ple allegedly threw them­selves on an employee car­ry­ing a pal­let of the Nutella. An employee at a store in cen­tral France told Le Progrès. We were try­ing to get between the cus­tomers, but they were push­ing us.”

A worker from Intermarché’s Forbach store anony­mously told Agence France-Presse, People just rushed in, shov­ing every­one, break­ing things. It was like an orgy. We were on the verge of call­ing the police.” At the Metz branch in north­east France, It was a real dis­as­ter, 200 peo­ple were out­side wait­ing for the super­mar­ket’s open­ing.” an employee told CNN.

The man­ager of Intermarché’s Rive-de-Gier store denied any vio­lence had taken place and told The Local that the reports were com­pletely false”. He added, There were lots of peo­ple, lots of noise, but the reports of vio­lence were sur­pris­ing to me — they’re not true.” He claimed the pro­mo­tion had been a suc­cess.

Intermarché issued an apol­ogy to its cus­tomers and claimed it had been sur­prised” by the demand.

Ferrero, the par­ent com­pany of Nutella said it was not involved in the pro­mo­tion and blasted the super­mar­ket chain in a Twitter state­ment say­ing, We wish to spec­ify that this pro­mo­tion was decided uni­lat­er­ally by the brand Intermarché.” Ferrero added, We deplore the con­se­quences of this oper­a­tion, which cre­ate con­fu­sion and dis­ap­point­ment in the minds of cus­tomers.”

In 2017, Ferrero became the cen­ter of a con­tro­versy when they were the first major European food com­pany to defend the palm oil indus­try amid reports that refined palm oil in foods could cause can­cer. Ferrero ran tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials and news­pa­per adver­tise­ments to reas­sure con­sumers that it was safe to eat Nutella. Other Italian food com­pa­nies began remov­ing palm oil from their prod­ucts.

Nutella pro­duces 365,000 tonnes of the spread annu­ally. France is its sec­ond largest mar­ket after Germany. Around 100 mil­lion jars of the hazel­nut and cocoa spread are con­sumed in France each year.

Nutella was launched by Pietro Ferrero in Northern Italy in the 1940’s. At the time, choco­late was expen­sive and in short sup­ply while hazel­nuts were abun­dant.

February 5th has been rec­og­nized as World Nutella Day since 2007.


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