Going Nutty For a Big Spread

Attention, danger, favorise l’obésité”. Danger this product can make you fat! That is the health warning printed on the label of my giant jar of Nutella. I’m not stupid. I know his stuff is bad for me – but I feel more than just a little reckless as I spoon down huge dollops of his deliciously addictive chocolate spread. To hell with obesity and type two diabetes. Just enjoy this moment of Nutella nirvana.

Sheerly sinful, especially when I think of the environmental impact – the insane destruction of rainforests across the world ? From the Far East to Latin America, millions of acres of Eden swept away and replanted with oil palms. Pizza, ice cream, lipstick and … Nutella, all contain palm oil. Back in 2015, French Ecology minister appealed to nation to boycott Nutella to save the rainforests. But Nutella hit back saying hey had « cleaned up their act » and were only sourcing sustainable palm oil.

Did the consumers care? In France at least we went on gorging ourselves despite the dangers of obesity and deforestation. This week though, Nutella has been in the headlines for other reasons – in supermarkets across the land there have been Nutella riots. Scenes of customers climbing over each other and even fighting to get their favourite chocolate and hazelnut spread.

No, there isn’t a shortage of Nutella – it all stems from the decision of one French supermarket chain : Intermarché, to offer up a whacking 70% discount on Nutella.

The Nutella promotion, that ran for three days, slashed the price on 950 gram (35 ounce) jars of the product from the usual €4.70 to a measly €1.41.

Queues formed hours before opening at some stores and in others, customers exchanged blows in the scramble for jars. Shop staff and security guards were unable to control the crowds. One shop-worker complained of a customer « ripping her hair out » as she fought her way through the crowd. In another store, an old lady was knocked out when crowds pulled down Nutella boxes and one fell on her head. There are other reports of customers, arriving in stores the evening before and « hiding » jars of Nutella in other aisles. Customers were leaving stores with shopping trolleys loaded to the gunnels with Nutella. In some stores customers were limited to three jars per purchase, but this had minimal effect, after buying their first three jars, clients would head back for three more.

To be fair to Ferrero, the company that makes Nutella, they issued a statement saying that they had nothing to do with the scheme, it was solely an Intermarché initiative.

On a day when France is experiencing torrential rain and record flooding, the Nutella Riots have stolen the headlines.

« There wouldn’t be scenes like this if supermarkets offered up a 70% discount on tins of spinach .» Wryly remarked one caller to a radio phone-in programme.

« We’ve banned Nutella from our house for environmental reasons. » declared another caller. At least he won’t be getting involved in any food riots.

Yeah, it’s crazy, scenes of « panic buying » for a product that is actually in plentiful supply.

Of course we are used to panic buying in France – it happens every year, when the nation’s truckers and road hauliers announce a national strike – and while the drivers head off to block the nation’s ports, oil refineries and logistical platforms, the nation’s consumers hit the supermarkets and stock up, or queue for hours at the petrol stations and « fill up, » – a full tank of petrol and a just few Jerry cans of gas for good measure – and then you are forced to drive round town looking for gas, but every petrol station is closed for the duration, a chain across the forecourt and a big sign screaming « Sorry, no petrol. » in big, red, hand-written letters

So, now that you have a mini Nutella mountain, what are you going to do with it all? Apart from the rare and sheerly sinful Nutella moments, in our house, we take months to get through a jumbo size family jar. Presumably if people are buying for personal consumption then, by the time they actually manage to get through the first few jars, all those others will be well past their « use by date ». Alternatively, people are going to eat so much of the stuff that after a few weeks they‘ll just be sick of the sight and taste of Nutella.

Of course no one is going to eat all this Nutella, people are selling it on the Internet – reportedly a jar of the discounted Nutella, purchased at €1,41 is selling on the Web for €3 as opposed to the normal retail price of €4,70 – that’s a good profit for the « private seller » and still a good saving for the customer.

I daresay when the Nutella rush is over, there will be a drop in supply, and supermarkets will increase the price – so get it while you can.