Nutella Hogs Hazelnuts to Meet the World's Insatiable Craving for Chocolaty Goodness

Illustration by Steph Davidson

There are more than 50 hazelnuts per 13-ounce jar of Nutella, and with 180 million kilograms of the chocolatey spread produced each year, that adds up to an insane number of hazelnuts. Right now, many confectioners are scrambling to secure hazelnuts: Hail storms and frost in March damaged the crop in Turkey, the world’s main growing area, causing prices to climb by as much as 60 percent this year. Nutella maker Ferrero Group has less reason for concern. It acquired Turkish hazelnut supplier Oltan Group in July.

“Ferrero has protected itself from the supply issues to an extent by buying Oltan Group,” said Julian Gale, deputy editor of Foodnews, in an e-mail.

Ferrero is already the largest consumer of hazelnuts, consuming 25 percent of the world’s supply. “Oltan Group is the worldwide leading operator in the procurement, processing and marketing of hazelnuts,” Ferrero said in a press release. Oltan has five production facilities exporting to the European Union and the world’s other major markets.

“There is ongoing strong demand, albeit with some occasional quiet patches when buyers hold back for a period, which helps keeps [hazelnut] prices firm,” wrote Gale. Strong demand from the confectionery market is also pushing up sales, according to a Foodnews nuts report. Ferrero did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

People around the world have been consuming more Nutella than ever. Sales of the spread increased 6.4 percent, to $2.46 billion, in 2013, according to data from market researcher Euromonitor. In the U.S., Nutella sales were up 5.9 percent.

In fact, sales of all chocolate spreads in the U.S. increased 11.9 percent last year, and “Consumers were increasingly drawn to chocolate spreads with hazelnut, specifically Nutella,” according to a Euromonitor report. Nutella, which started out as a somewhat niche product, has grown into a very substantial part of the category, representing nearly 70 percent of U.S. chocolate spread sales.

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