On January 31, the French Government proposed a bill seeking to restrict supermarket-pricing strategies, banning ‘buy one, get one free’ deals and discounts of over 34 percent on food products. The move follows what has been dubbed the ‘Nutella riots’, a series of chaotic scuffles that broke out in a supermarket chain when the price of Nutella was slashed by 70 percent. Viral videos depict frenzied scenes in the Nutella isle as shoppers brawl to get their hands on a low-priced jar.
The commotion was not restricted to Nutella, however, with heavy discounts on other items such as coffee and nappies inciting similar behaviour over the past week. In the wake of the incidents, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire met with the chief executive of Intermarché, the supermarket chain responsible for many of the deals.
The bill seeking to ban discount deals has been crafted to put more pricing power in the hands of farmers and producers, who are often the victims of price battles
Referring to the meeting on RTL radio, Le Maire said: “I told him this can’t happen again, that we can’t see these kind of scenes in France every five minutes.” Le Maire went on to argue similar deals should be stopped and that the shoppers’ disorderly behaviour must not be “normalised”.
However, the idea of a government-issued rule to bar deals is not just designed to protect consumers from themselves: the bill has been crafted to put more pricing power in the hands of farmers and producers, who are often the victims of price battles between retailers. A further measure in the bill aims to bolster the minimum price supermarkets can sell food products for, with the hope of preventing price wars from breaking out in the first place.
French Minister of Agriculture Stéphane Travert commented: “It will be a breath of fresh air for retailers, who will be able to trim their margins on other products and pay producers better.”