Nutella discount creates near riots in France, no-holds barred
27 Jan 2018
Chaos erupted in supermarkets across France on Thursday and Friday as shoppers brawled trying to get their hands on discounted Nutella.
Fights and even riots were reported in multiple parts of the country after the Intermarché chain began a promotion for France's favourite chocolate and hazelnut spread Thursday. More than a million 950-gram pots were slashed in price by 70 per cent from €4.50 to €1.41 ($5.85 to $1.75).
France has seen nothing like it: supermarket aisles of brawling customers throwing punches, pulling hair and shoving the elderly out of the way.
Police were reportedly called as fights broke out among swarming customers grabbing 950g jars of Nutella reduced prices.
In one store, a member of staff was punched in the eye while trying to separate warring customers. In another, shoppers cleared shelves in 15 minutes.
''They are like animals. One woman had her hair pulled. An elderly lady took a box on her head. Another had a bloody hand,'' one customer said.
Police had to intervene in a brawl in the northern town of Ostricourt, Le Parisien newspaper reported. An employee at one store in Forbach, near the border with Germany, likened the scenes to an orgy, telling Le Monde newspaper that shoppers had broken items in their rush for the treat.
Video footage of the chaos shows shoppers stuffing jars of Nutella into bags.
Queues had formed outside many Intermarché supermarkets on Thursday, and customers were limited to three pots each.
"Some customers came the night before the promotion to stash the Nutella pots in other places, so to prevent others from taking them," Jean-Marie Daragon, the manager of the Intermarché store in Montbrison, central France, told Le Progres, the local paper in the Loire Valley.
In one Intermarché in the Moselle in eastern France, a member of staff reported: ''People were piling in, they knocked everything over and broke stuff. It was an orgy … we were on the point of calling the police.''
In another store, staff said they had sold in one go the number of Nutella jars normally sold in three months. ''They were fighting over it … at the tills there was only Nutella,'' one told Le Progrès.
A worker at another store in L'Horme told Le Progres that all the jars were gone in 15 minutes, and one customer was given a black eye.
Ferrero, the company that produces Nutella, distanced itself from the chaos, saying it had nothing to do with the promotion.
''We want to clarify that the decision for the special offer was taken unilaterally by Intermarché,'' the firm said in a statement. ''We regret the consequences of this operation, which created confusion and disappointment in the consumers' minds.''
Nutella was created by the Ferrero family in Italy in the 1940s. About 365 million kg of the hazelnut chocolate spread are consumed in 160 countries around the world every year.
In a statement, the supermarket chain said it was surprised the offer had caused battle scenes in its stores and was sorry for the ''disagreeable events customers suffered''