The French government has appealed to supermarkets to stop offering huge discounts on the likes of Nutella after videos emerged last week showing desperate shoppers scuffling over deals.
Videos of French shoppers jostling as they tried to grab heavily discounted tubs of the chocolate spread in Intermarche stores have gone viral over the past week.
‘I met with the director of Intermarche yesterday,’ Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said, as his government prepared to unveil a bill later today that will tighten rules on supermarket promotions.
‘I told him that this must be stopped – we can’t have scenes like this every few days in France,’ Le Maire told RTL radio.
Chaos: Customers scrambled to get their hands on pots of Nutella last week after a French supermarket chain rolled out a 70 per cent discount
‘I met with the director of Intermarche yesterday,’ Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire (pictured) said, as his government prepared to unveil a bill later today that will tighten rules on supermarket promotions
Scramble: There was hysteria in shops around the country as bargain hunters tried to get their hands on knockdown pots of the chocolate hazelnut spread
Intermarche sparked the shopping frenzy last Thursday when it slashed the price of a 950-gram (2-pound) pot of Nutella – a favoured breakfast spread in France – from 4.50 euros (£4) to 1.41 euros (£1.24).
The three-day promotion prompted shoving and even full-blown fights in several stores, with one worker likening the scenes to ‘an orgy’.
Intermarche apologised to customers, but it has since continued with aggressive discounts on coffee and nappies.
The DGCCRF consumer agency on Monday announced it was launching an investigation into the discounts.
Le Maire urged Intermarche to ‘stop this kind of promotion’, saying that the pushing and shoving seen as customers clamoured to get their hands on the Nutella tubs must not become ‘normalised’.
He reminded Intermarche’s management that like other supermarket chains, it had already ‘signed a deal to no longer carry out these kind of promotions. They must keep their word.’
Videos of the shopping frenzy have been shared thousands of times on social media, with comedian Anthony Joubert racking up 700,000 plays on a song featuring the lyrics, ‘A euro for Nutella, I’d kill a mother or father for that.’
Ferrero, the Italian company that makes Nutella, said the discount decision was taken ‘unilaterally’ by Intermarche and risked creating ‘confusion and disappointment’ for consumers.
Some media reports in France said shoppers were behaving like ‘animals’ in scenes reminiscent of the Black Friday sales in America as they scrambled to secure the heavily discounted goods at Intermarche supermarkets
The shopping mayhem was sparked when Intermarche announced its €4.50 pots were to be reduced to just €1.40
Chaos broke out in French supermarkets with reports of ‘riots’ caused by a 70 per cent discount on Nutella.
Some media reports in France said shoppers were behaving like ‘animals’ in scenes reminiscent of the Black Friday sales in America as they scrambled to secure the heavily discounted breakfast favourite at Intermarche supermarkets.
Le Progres newspaper was told by one customer in Rive-de-Gier, central France: ‘They are like animals. A woman had her hair pulled, an elderly lady took a box on her head, another had a bloody hand. It was horrible.’
However, the store manager insisted there was no violence and dismissed such reports as inaccurate.
According to The Local police were called to a shop in Ostricourt in northern France when a brawl broke out.
The same happened in Wingles and Marles-les-Mines in Pas-de-Calais as well as in Roubaix in the Nord department, it is claimed.
In one shop in Saint-Cyprien in southern France, a staff member was pounced on while they were still in the process of carrying a crate of the spread on to the shop floor.
The Montbrison store in central France resorted to limiting the number of pots per customer to three – only for shoppers to keep returning for a repeat purchase.
Store manager Jean-Marie Daragon said 700 pots flew off the shelves in just 45 minutes.
About 100 million pots of Nutella are eaten each year in France. Some 365,000 tonnes of the spread are made each year.