Nutella Discounts Sparked Riots in French Supermarkets

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Multiple supermarkets of Intermarché chain witnessed small riots when people jumped in for the hazelnut-and-cocoa spread Nutella that were on sale with 70% discount.

At the sale, the regular spread price of €4.50 ($5.60) was slashed by 70% and brought down to —€1.41 ($1.76) per jar. This steep discount prompted the riot scenes at many places according to Le Progrès, the Lyon-based newspaper.

The paper also reported that people actually threw themselves on the store employees who were bringing out pallets of the popular spread.  Talking about the grab-the-jar frenzy, a bystander said, “A woman had her hair pulled, an elderly lady took a box on her head, another had a blood hand. It was horrible.”

Police were called in to break up fights in some of the supermarkets in northern France, According to the newspaper, The Local.

Most customers fought tooth and nail to get the jars, but few customers acted smartly. At a store in Montbrison, central France, customers hid pots of Nutella the night before the promotion began to stop rival shoppers buying them.

The store also tried to restore order by having fair distribution, but in vain. One store manager, Jean-Marie Daragon said, “I solved the problem by limiting the number of pots to three per person. But they went back and forth.”

Footage available on social media shows shoppers barging into the shelves of jars and fighting with store employees who were trying to restore order. The scene very much resembled the Black Friday sales hysteria.

An employee at branch of store L’Horme in central France told the regional newspaper Le Progrès that attempting to stop the violence was met with fierce resistance. He said that, “We were trying to get in between the customers, but they were pushing us.”

The discount was supposed to last until Saturday but the supermarket chains experienced that all the stock they had was snapped in mere 10 to 15 minutes.

There were few places that were exceptions and the sales went smoothly in there and no incidents were reported in several supermarkets taking part in the promotion.

According to Ferrero, the brand’s owner, Intermarché is responsible for it, saying it “deplored” the promotion “and its consequences.” In a statement the company said, “We wish to clarify that this promotion was decided unilaterally by the Intermarché brand. We regret the consequences of this operation, which created confusion and disappointment in the consumers’ minds.”

Ferrero owns some of the major brands, such as Ferrero Rocher, Kinder, and Tic Tac. Yet, Nutella spread is what the company majorly known for and it has built the company. The founder Pietro Ferrero had the idea of using hazelnut, which is abundantly available in his native region of Piedmont, to save and supplement expensive chocolate when making confectionary. The company is set to buy Nestle’s U.S. confectionary business.

French are one of the largest consumers of Nutella across the globe and consume around 100 million jars per year. Nutella’s influence over can be understood with this incident. In 2015, a French court stopped a couple from naming their baby daughter after the spread, ruling it would make her the target of ridicule.

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