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French fraud investigators to probe Nutella punch-up promotion

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Nutella piled up at the Ferrero plant in Villers-Ecalles, northwestern France AFP

France's consumer watchdog is to investigate the sale of cut-price Nutella that led to brawls in French supermarkets last week.


The consumer-protection and anti-fraud agency, DGCCRF, announced Monday that it would probe the Intermarché supermarket chain's decision to slash the price of a 950-gramme jar of the chocolate and hazelnut spread from 4.70 euros to 1.41 euros.

The offer sparked brawls in supermarket aisles as frantic shoppers tried to snap up the bargain.

The inquiry will judge whether the offer could be legally described as a sale or whether it was dumping the product on the market.

For a discount to qualify as a bona fide sale offer, in which goods may be sold at a loss, they must have been bought at least a month before the time their prices are reduced.

Nutella's Italian manufacturer, Ferrero, has dissociated itself from the move, describing it as a "unilateral" decision.

The ruckus occurred ahead of Wednesday's presentation of a bill to parliament that would limit price reductions on food to no more than 34 percent of the price paid by the retailer.

That would have made Intermarché's price cut illegal.

Agriculture Minister Stéphane Travert is reported to be furious, especially since last November retailers signed a "charter of good conduct" that they were supposed to follow as negotiations over the proposed law were under way.