France’s Nutella ‘Riots’ Have Prompted a Government Investigation
Days after Nutella “riots” broke out in France over cheap sales of the popular spread, the government is investigating the promotion that caused the violence.
The probe is coming from the finance ministry, which suspects that supermarket chain Intermarché may have broken French consumer law by overly discounting the hazelnut-and-cocoa spread.
With Nutella jars last week selling at just €1.41 ($1.75) rather than €4.70—a 70% discount—customers went wild across France, leading to much pushing, punching and hair-pulling.
French consumer law forbids companies from offering steep reductions on items outside certain periods to discourage them from selling at a loss.
According to Le Parisien, the Directorate General of Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control will try to ascertain when Intermarché bought the Nutella—for the sale to be legal, it ought to be at least a month before—and whether the price reduction was “fair.” This last point rests on whether or not the Nutella promotion fell into the general “winter sales.”
The French government is currently pushing back against steep discounting. It wants to see discounts limited to 34% of the wholesale price, and Agriculture and Food Minister Stephane Travert has also come out against “two for the price of one” promotions, in order to “give value back to products.”
According to The Local, last week’s Nutella-induced mayhem caused a great deal of soul-searching in French media, with sociologists proclaiming the end of French solidarity.
Fortune has asked Intermarché for comment and will update the story when it arrives.