Fraud office to investigate riotous Nutella promotion

The promotion of the famous chocolate spread caused riots last week, prompting an investigation

The national fraud office (DGCCRF) is to open an inquiry into the supermarket promotion of 70% off the chocolate spread Nutella, which provoked riots across the country last week.

“Riots” and violent crowds were seen at many Intermarché supermarkets last week after the company announced a 70% off promotion on the 950g jars of the famous hazelnut chocolate spread, putting it at €1.41 per pot instead of the usual €4.50.

Staff and other customers reported long queues before stores opened; saw grown men and women fighting each other on the shop floor to get their hands on the pots; and others said that some people had even hidden the jars in different parts of the supermarkets the night before, to avoid others finding them when the promotion started the next day.

The manufacturer of Nutella, Italian company Ferrero, denied any involvement with the promotion and said it “deplored” how it had “created confusion and disappointment among customers”.

Supermarket Intermarché said it regretted that the “riot” behaviour meant that many customers were not able to take advantage of the sale.

Now, the DGCCRF is to “look very closely” at the promotion circumstances, according to reports, after the Ministry for Economy and Finances made a statement to the Agence France-Presse.

“Food products are not exempt from the normal Sales,” the statement warned. “Sale products must be bought at least one month before the period of sales, and the reduction announcement and amount must be fair.”

This week, the minister for Agriculture, Stéphane Travert, is to propose a law that would limit the extent of promotions and offers in large supermarkets.

The proposal is expected to say that supermarkets should not be allowed to sell goods for lower that the amount that would cover the goods’ logistics and transport costs - usually set at 34% - plus 10% on top.

Under this system, the Nutella promotion would almost certainly have been prohibited.

Travert is said to have been even more angry and disappointed by Intermarché’s actions, given that in November 2017, all supermarkets signed a charter of “good behaviour” between stores and manufacturers.

Indeed, Intermarché has already been criticised - even in the days since the Nutella scandal - by another boss: Richard Girardot, the CEO of Nestlé France, who denounced the supermarket group for its current 70% off promotion on Perrier sparkling water.

The 70% off deals - including that on Nutella - all form part of Intermarché’s “The 4 cheapest weeks in France” promotion, which will see a wide range of products heavily discounted over the next month.

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