PARIS (AFP) - French fraud authorities on Thursday (Feb 22) accused supermarket chain Intermarche of illegally selling Nutella below cost, after heavy discounts sparked a shopping frenzy that made international headlines.
The DGCCRF fraud watchdog said it was filing a legal case against the supermarket, which could face a maximum fine of €375,000 (S$609,000).
Videos of French shoppers jostling as they tried to grab cut-price tubs of the chocolate spread in Intermarche stores went viral on the Internet last month.
"Our agents have concluded that Intermarche did not respect measures in place concerning selling at a loss, which is a criminal offence," a DGCCRF spokesman told AFP.
The agency said its investigation found Intermarche had sold four products marked down 70 per cent, including Nutella, at a loss, a tactic used to draw shoppers in to spend on other products.
The other products were Pampers nappies, Carte Noire cafe and Perrier sparkling water.
Intermarche has apologised after its three-day promotion prompted shoving and even full-blown fights in several stores over the Nutella, with one worker likening the scenes to "an orgy".
The supermarket had slashed the price of a 950g pot of Nutella - a favoured breakfast spread in France - from €4.50 to €1.41.
Videos of the shopping frenzy were shared thousands of times on social media, with comedian Anthony Joubert racking up a million plays on a song featuring the lyrics, "A euro for Nutella, I'd kill a mother or father for that."