French shoppers have been rioting "like animals" to get their hands on the internationally popular hazelnut spread Nutella, with some customers getting black eyes and bloody hands.
Intermarché stores across France were the scene of fighting over the chocolate treat on Thursday morning (25 July) as 950g jars were reduced to €1.41 - a reduction of about 70% on the usual price, about €4.70. The promotion is due to last for two more days.
Videos posted on social media showed huge crowds gathered around pallets of Nutella, with people grabbing as many jars as they could carry. In some stores, including in Ostricourt in northern France, police had to be called as scuffles broke out between customers.
One customer, who got caught up in the scene at the Rive-de-Gier supermarket in central France, told Le Progres: "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."
At that store, management denied there had been any physical violence despite plenty of shouting, calling the sale a success. They said 600 pots were snapped up in just five minutes.
In L'Horme, an employee told the newspaper that they saw a customer with a black eye in the crowd. They added: "We were trying to get in between the customers, but they were pushing us." The jars were all gone within 15 minutes.
In a small store in Saint-Chamond, 300 jars were also sold in 15 minutes, with more fighting witnessed. An employee of 16 years told Le Progres: "It was fighting. We sold what we sell in three months. On the crate carpets, there was only Nutella."
They added: "It was not our usual clientele. Our clients, they were crying because they had nothing."
Jean-Marie Daragon, at the Intermarché de Montbrison, tried to come up with ways of limiting customers' appetites. He said: "Today, I solved the problem by limiting the number of pots to three per person. But they went back and forth. So I decided to place them at the reception. But they come in groups of 10 each with a card."
His store sold 700 jars in 45 minutes, and intends to repeat the promotion on Friday and Saturday.
France is the second biggest consumer of Nutella, eating around 100 million jars per year, behind only Germany.
The brand's website sums up why France loves Nutella so much. "Le petit dejeuner is a very important meal: it helps start the day off in an upbeat way," it says. "France is a country with a significant bakery tradition so bread takes pride of place on the breakfast table and the choice is endless: "pain de campagne", cereal bread, "boule", "coronne", "épi", "fougasse"... but the star is undoubtedly the "baguette" which makes a delicious pairing with Nutella every morning.
"Fresh out of the oven directly from a favourite bakery or slightly toasted to awaken the bready flavours, it is oh so perfect with Nutella!"