Reports from employees - and some amateur footage shot by customers - show crowds of people storming the shelves, with many customers clutching up to five or six of the 950g pots.
Usually on sale for €4.70 each, the promotion slashed the price to €1.41 per pot, prompting customers to line up outside stores ahead of opening time on Thursday morning, and rushing to the shelves as soon as the doors were unlocked.
Employees and security guards across the country attempted to dispel the crowds, but many were not able to until the pots of the spread had disappeared.
One employee of a branch of the supermarket group Intermarché in Croix (Nord), speaking to news source BFMTV, said that the entire section of Nutella was gone “within five minutes”.
He said: “People were running everywhere, shouting: ‘That’s my Nutella, it’s mine, stop it, you’re hurting me…’. The security guard was on his own so it quickly got difficult, because there were nearly 200 people jumping on top of each other. It was crazy.”
One customer, who witnessed scenes at Rive-de-Gier, was quoted in the newspaper Le Figaro, saying: “They were screaming like animals. One woman had her hair pulled, an older woman got a box thrown at her head, another person had a bloodied hand. It was horrible!”
Another employee, this time from a store in Saint-Chamond, said that she had “never seen anything like it, in 16 years of working at the supermarket”.
The supermarkets reportedly sold in one day, what they would usually sell in three months.
One supermarket manager, Jean-Marie Daragon, attempted to put a “three pots per customer” limit on the promotion, but found that many people were simply managing to do several trips, or shop in groups, to get around the rule.
He added that some customers had come to the supermarket the night before the promotion began, and hid several pots around the store so that others wouldn’t know where to find them.
In its defence, Intermarché said it was “sorry for the clients” who were not able to benefit from the promotion, and said it was “surprised by the impact of this exceptional event”.
And yet, Ferrero, manufacturer and owner of the Nutella brand, distanced itself from the incidents, saying that they were neither aware of the super-promotion nor had approved it.
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