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‘They were like animals’: Nutella promo sparks ‘riots’ in French supermarkets

There were scenes of hysteria and reports of shoppers acting like "animals" in French supermarkets on Thursday... all because of a discount on pots of Nutella.

'They were like animals': Nutella promo sparks 'riots' in French supermarkets
Photo: AFP
Even for a country's whose obsession for Nutella is renowned, the scenes – described as a “riot” in some newspapers – in French supermarkets on Thursday were stunning.
 
Although the country's passion for Nutella is no secret, a 70 percent discount on the famous chocolate hazelnut spread at Intermarche supermarkets has really shown what the French are willing to do to get their hands on the spread. 
 
In scenes reminiscent of Black Friday bonanzas in the US, images and videos posted on social media showed customers jostling, scuffling and battling each other to get their hands on pots of Nutella in supermarkets around the country.
 
“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,” one customer at the Rive-de-Gier supermarket in central France told Le Progres newspaper.
 
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In Ostricourt in northern France, the police were called in when supermarket customers resorted to fisticuffs, and similar scenes were also reportedly seen in Roubaix in the Nord department, as well as Wingles and Marles-les-Mines in Pas-de-Calais.
 
The mad pursuit to get a €4.50 pot for the discount price of €1.40 also saw employees caught up in the fray. 
 
 
In the village of L'Horme in the Loire in central France, one staff member told Le Progres newspaper: “We were trying to get in between the customers but they were pushing us,” they said, adding that one customer had been given a black eye. 
 
“We need another system,” said another Intermarche staff member.
 
 
We would prefer not to do it. It's more of a nuisance than anything else,” they said before comparing the scenes to the Battle of Berezina fought between the French army and Russia in 1812. 
 
At the Intermarché in Saint-Cyprien in southern France, people threw themselves on the employee carrying the Nutella pots on a pallet, according to reports. 
 
However the manager of the Rive-de-Gier store told The Local that the reports were “completely false”. 
 
“There were lots of people, lots of noise, but the reports of violence were surprising to me — they're not true.
 
The sale had been a “success” he said. 
 
One Intermarche worker said told Le Progres how some customers had come up with inventive ways to make sure wouldn't miss out. 
 
“Some customers came the night before the promotions to stash the Nutella pots in other places, and thus prevent others from taking them,” Jean-Marie Daragon from the Intermarché in Montbrison, central France.
 
“Today, I solved the problem by limiting the number of pots to three per person. But they went back and forth,” he said.
 

 
At the Montbrison store on Thursday morning, 700 pots of Nutella disappeared in three quarters of an hour and the supermarket is planning to repeat the discount on Friday and Saturday. 

Nutella churns out 365,000 tonnes of the spread each year.

Much of the Nutella production doesn't have to go far to get eaten. Europeans love it, with the French second only to the Germans as the world's top consumers of the paste. 

The French have long had a love affair with the chocolate spread and it is the sweet and some say sickly breakfast of choice for many French school children.

Around 100 million pots are devoured each year in France alone.

In 2016, a couple were banned from calling their daughter Nutella by French courts, with judges saying the child would be mocked as she grew up. 

 

OFFBEAT

France’s mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo

A black panther rescued from rooftops near the northern city of Lille last week has been stolen from the zoo where it was taken after capture, officials said.

France's mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo
Photo: AFP/ Sapeurs Pompiers du Nord

The feline was seized overnight from the zoo in Maubeuge near the Belgian border, the city's mayor, Arnaud Decagny, told AFP on Tuesday.

“This animal was the only target,” Decagny said, adding that “considerable efforts” were made to force locks and avoid security systems.

Zoo personnel are worried about the young panther's health, “which is rather delicate because he lacks strength,” the mayor added, saying the animal was just a few months old and weighed between 25 and 30kg.

The panther after its capture. Photo League Protectrice des Animaux de la Nord de France/AFP

The panther was going to be transferred to a centre specialised in rehabilitating wild animals that had been domesticated.

Firefighters caught the cat last Wednesday as it roamed rooftops in Armentieres after escaping through the window of a private apartment believed to have been its home.

The panther's owner is thought to have escaped through the same window, for fear of being charged with illegally harbouring a wild animal.

Police have not located the fugitive owner, who could face charges of endangering the public, which is punishable by up to a year in prison and €15,000 in fines, Decagny said.

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