France to probe Nutella promotion that sparked supermarket ‘riots’

The fallout from the Nutella riots in French supermarkets continued on Monday with the country's finance ministry announcing it would investigate the promotion on the famous chocolate spread to see whether it was against strict consumer laws on discounts.

France to probe Nutella promotion that sparked supermarket 'riots'

Was the promotion that sparked the infamous “Nutella riots” in French supermarkets actually against the law?

The DGCCRF, the body which investigates fraud at France's ministry of finance, announced on Monday it will open an investigation into the promotion launched by Intermarché supermarkets on the pots of Nutella that sparked the feeding frenzy, Le Parisien newspaper reports.

On January 25th shoppers in supermarkets across France were accused of “acting like animals” to try and get hold of discounted pots of spread.

By selling 950g pots of France's favourite chocolate spread for €1.41 instead of €4.70  – an “unprecedented” reduction of 70 percent – there are suggestions that Intermarché might have broken the country's strict laws on discounted goods.

Intermarché has so far declined to comment on the incidents that made headlines around the world, but Nutella were quick to react saying it “deplored the operation and its consequences” and pinned the blame for the scenes of hysteria firmly on the supermarket chain.

The selling of discounted food is highly regulated in France to prevent companies from selling it at a loss.

The consumer police at the DGCCRF will have to determine whether the Nutella offer was part of the general winter “sales” which allow for steep reductions or just a one-off offer on Nutella. They will also look at how much Intermarché bought the product for initially.

The law in France allows food to be discounted as part of the official “sales” under two conditions: that the products were bought at least one month before the beginning of the sales period and if it's considered a fair price.

If it is just a special offer then the discount price offered must not be an attempt at “product dumping” by the stores.

France's Minister of Agriculture and Food, Stephane Travert, has announced his his intention to fight against excessive discounts by limiting them to 34 percent of the purchase price paid by the stores.

He also announced he wants to see the end of supermarket offers such as “buy one – get one free” with the aim of “giving value back to products”.

The scenes of shoppers pushing and shoving each other to get their hands on a pot of Nutella shocked many around the world, as it all seemed very unlike the French. 

The images – the like of which are more common in America on days like Black Friday when products are sold at huge discounts – also sparked some soul-searching in France.

Sociologist Gérard Mermet told Le Parisien that it showed that “solidarity no longer had a place in France.”

“I do not think we could have seen these scenes in Germany, where common sense exists more”.

READ ALSO: What the 2018 'Great Nutella Riots' tell us about the French

What the 'great Nutella riots' of 2018 tell us about the French





No health risks behind halt on Nutella production, says France

French authorities said Friday that there appeared to be no health risks behind the decision to halt production of Nutella at a plant in Normandy, the world's largest factory making the prized chocolate-and-hazelnut spread.

No health risks behind halt on Nutella production, says France
Photo: AFP
Nutella's Italian owner Ferrero, whose products also include Ferrero Rocher chocolates, on Wednesday said it had suspended production at the site as a precautionary measure.
“As far as I am aware at the moment, there is no health problem,” French Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume told CNews. “From what I know, this is an economic problem.”
The Villers-Ecalles site in Normandy produces around 600,000 jars a day, or about a quarter of all the Nutella made worldwide.
Photo: AFP
Ferrero's France affiliate said it had discovered a quality defect in one of the ingredients used for making Nutella as well as Kinder Bueno candy bars.
The manufacturer said the defect was not related to its standards of quality.
“For now, we can say no products currently on the market are impacted by the situation and that the supply to our customers continues without interruption,” the company said.
The Ferrero group, with 30,000 employees and 22 production sites around the globe, also makes Kinder surprise eggs and chocolate bars as well as Tic Tac mints.