Chocolate Spread Discount Leads to Riots in Supermarkets in France

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. riot / ˈraɪ ət / (n) – a situation wherein a large group of people behave violently

    A riot broke out in the city as protesters fought with the police.

  2. storm / stɔrm / (v) – to enter forcefully

    The child stormed into the candy store and grabbed a handful of chocolates.

  3. scuffle / ˈskʌf əl / (v) – to fight in a brief and confused manner

    The boys scuffled in the dirt like angry kittens.

  4. hysterical / hɪˈstɛr ɪ kəl / (adj) – having uncontrolled excitement, anger, fear, etc.

    He became hysterical after hearing about his friend’s death.

  5. confectionery / kənˈfɛk ʃəˌnɛr i / (n) – sweets

    The children were carrying bags filled with confectionery like chocolates and lollipops.


Read the text below.

A massive discount on popular spread Nutella / nyu tɛl ə / sparked riots in supermarkets across France.

In January, supermarket chain Intermarché [uh-te-mah-SHEE] offered a 70% discount on 950-gram jars of Nutella. As a result, thousands of buyers stormed into various branches of the supermarket to take advantage of the Nutella jars priced at €1.40 ($1.75), which previously cost €4.50 ($5.70).

Situations at supermarkets quickly turned into riots as shoppers became desperate to get their share of Nutella. The police were called to intervene when several shoppers started to scuffle and push each other.

Because chaos caused by store sales is rare in France, many did not expect such hysterical behavior from the customers. A French food expert analyzed the issue and explained that the French people’s general fondness for confectionery like chocolate spreads is a possible contributor to the riots. In fact, locals consume around 75,000 metric tons of Nutella, which is frequently paired with croissants / krəˈsɑnts / and baguettes / bæˈgɛts /, every year.

The riots at the Intermarché branches are comparable to the chaos that usually occurs during Black Friday sales in the United States. The term Black Friday refers to the day after Thanksgiving. As it is the busiest shopping day of the year, shoppers flock to malls to take advantage of holiday discounts.

During a 2011 Black Friday sale at a Walmart branch in Los Angeles, a woman fired pepper spray into a crowd so she could get her hands on a discounted Xbox. This resulted in minor injuries among 20 shoppers. However, the woman reasoned that she only used the pepper spray as a defense against shoppers who tried to attack her children for the Xbox.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What do you think could have been done to avoid the riots at Intermarché?
• If a product you really liked was on sale, would you be willing to endure a similar situation as the Nutella sale? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• What do you think are the factors that make people willing to endure chaos during store sales (e.g. limited finances, thrill of competition)?
• In your country, what products could possibly trigger riots if they go on sale? Why do you think they have this kind of impact on consumers?