Where Do Nutella Hazelnuts Come From? A Comprehensive Guide

Have you ever wondered where the delicious hazelnuts in Nutella come from?

These little heart-shaped nuts are a cherished commodity, mainly found in Mediterranean type climates. Nutella’s main origins for hazelnuts are Turkey, Italy, Chile, and the USA.

But with Ferrero purchasing a quarter of the world’s hazelnuts every year to meet its Nutella-making needs, there is more to the story than just where they come from.

In this article, we’ll explore the journey of these sought-after hazelnuts and the impact they have on the world.

Where Do Nutella Hazelnuts Come From

As mentioned earlier, Nutella hazelnuts come from different parts of the world, with Turkey being the largest producer, accounting for nearly 70% of the world’s production and 82% of global exports. The hazelnuts are harvested from August to September in the Northern Hemisphere, and from February to March in the Southern Hemisphere, ensuring that there are always fresh hazelnuts available for Nutella production.

Italy is another major producer of hazelnuts, with many orchards located in the town of Alba. It was here that Pietro Ferrero owned a bakery and sold the initial batch of Pasta Gianduja, which later became Nutella.

Chile and the USA also contribute to Nutella’s hazelnut supply, with hazelnut orchards mainly found in Mediterranean type climates.

The History Of Hazelnuts In Nutella

The history of hazelnuts in Nutella can be traced back to the early 1940s, when cocoa was in short supply due to World War II. Pietro Ferrero, a pastry maker from Piedmont, Italy, came up with the idea of using hazelnuts to stretch the limited cocoa supply. He created a paste made of hazelnuts, sugar, and a small amount of cocoa, which he called Pasta Gianduja.

Pasta Gianduja was an instant hit and soon became a staple in Italian households. In 1964, Pietro’s son Michele Ferrero refined the recipe and launched it as Nutella. The spread quickly gained popularity not just in Italy but around the world.

Today, Ferrero continues to source hazelnuts from different parts of the world and has invested in the processing and transformation of hazelnuts through the acquisition of leading companies. This has allowed them to improve their selection and processing capacity of hazelnuts, ensuring that Nutella always has the best quality ingredients.

Despite its success, Nutella has also faced criticism over its use of palm oil and allegations of exploitation of hazelnut farmers in Turkey. Nonetheless, Nutella remains a beloved brand around the world, with its unique combination of hazelnuts and chocolate continuing to delight taste buds everywhere.

Hazelnut Farming In Turkey

Hazelnut farming in Turkey has a long history dating back to 1500 BC, with the Black Sea region being the main area of production. The region is divided into an older eastern part spanning from Ordu to Artvin and a newer western part between Samsun and Kocaeli. The provinces of Ordu, Samsun, and Giresun are the major hazelnut producing regions in Turkey, with efficient production also seen in Sakarya and Düzce.

Turkey’s hazelnut production is so significant that it accounts for nearly 70% of the world’s production and 82% of global exports. The Turkish farmers work hard to ensure that there are always fresh hazelnuts available for Nutella production. The harvesting season starts from August to September in the Northern Hemisphere and from February to March in the Southern Hemisphere.

Despite being the largest producer of hazelnuts, Turkish farmers complain of exploitation and meager pay, setting up a clash over labor rights. The farmers work long hours, kneeling from dawn till dusk, picking most of the hazelnuts going into Nutella spreads. They claim that foreign companies buying their hazelnuts make more profits than they do, leaving them feeling exploited. The Turkish government has promised to help by raising local quotas so that producers can sell more nuts and diversify their client base.

Italy’s Hazelnut Industry And Nutella Production

Italy’s hazelnut industry has a rich history, with the town of Alba being a major producer of high-quality hazelnuts. It was in this town that Pietro Ferrero owned a bakery and sold the first batch of Pasta Gianduja, which later became Nutella. Today, Ferrero, the Italian company that manufactures Nutella, is based in Alba and uses about a quarter of the world’s hazelnut supply, more than 100,000 tons every year.

The hazelnuts used in Nutella production are sourced from different parts of Italy, including Alba and other regions with Mediterranean type climates. The hazelnut orchards in Italy are often family-owned and operated, with small farms and seasonal workers supporting the agricultural harvest. This can make the supply chain more complex than in other countries.

The hazelnuts from Italy are combined with cocoa, palm oil, sugar, and milk powder to create the creamy and delicious spread that Nutella is known for. The hazelnuts are carefully selected for quality and freshness to ensure that every jar of Nutella meets the company’s high standards.

Hazelnut Harvesting In Chile

While Turkey and Italy are the largest producers of hazelnuts for Nutella, Chile is also an important sourcing country. In fact, Chile is the largest producer of hazelnuts in the southern hemisphere, with most of the production exported to Europe and the USA. Hazelnut cultivation in Chile can be traced back to the 19th century when German, Italian, and Swiss immigrants began cultivating hazelnuts in Araucanía. However, large plantations of hazelnuts are a more recent phenomenon that started in the 2000s.

Hazelnut cultivation in Chile is centered in Central and South-central regions, with some challenges due to the small family-owned farms and the need for seasonal workers. Despite these challenges, Ferrero has established its own Agrifarms in Chile to ensure a high-quality and fresh supply of hazelnuts throughout the year. These farms are certified under the Sustainably Grown standard, and Ferrero has more than 30 years of experience in Chile, which it shares with local farmers through its Ferrero Farming Values Chile program.

Ferrero’s commitment to sustainability also extends to its hazelnut sourcing in Chile. The company is working to improve traceability along its value chain, demanding greater transparency from all stakeholders to improve quality and sustainability. In 2018, Ferrero achieved 100% traceability for its sourced hazelnuts from Chile. Through its Ferrero Farming Values program, the company is partnering with experts, research institutes, and universities across Italy and other countries to continually improve the sustainable development of the hazelnut sector.

The Rise Of Hazelnut Farming In The USA

While the majority of Nutella’s hazelnuts still come from Turkey and Italy, hazelnut farming in the USA is on the rise. As of 2017, 99% of the country’s hazelnuts were grown in Oregon, with the other 1% coming from Washington. However, this is starting to change as more farmers across the country are recognizing the potential for growing hazelnuts.

Scientists are currently working on breeding hazelnuts that can withstand colder climates, which would make it possible to grow them in regions like the Midwest. This could lead to a surge in hazelnut growth across the country in the future.

Oregon remains America’s hazelnut king, with 87,000 acres of farmland dedicated to hazelnut growth and growers earning an impressive average of around $70 million over the last five years for their crop. However, as demand for hazelnuts continues to rise, more farmers are expanding their orchards and experimenting with growing hazelnuts in other parts of the country.

The Impact Of Nutella’s Hazelnut Demand On The World’s Economy

The popularity of Nutella has had a significant impact on the world’s economy, particularly in the hazelnut industry. Ferrero, the parent company of Nutella, purchases a quarter of the world’s hazelnuts every year to meet its production needs. This translates to more than 100,000 tons of hazelnuts annually. The high demand for hazelnuts has led to an increase in prices, with some countries like Turkey experiencing a surge in prices due to the popularity of Nutella.

The hazelnut industry has become an essential source of income for many countries, especially those in the Mediterranean region where the climate is favorable for growing hazelnuts. Turkey, for instance, has been able to lift many of its people out of poverty by exporting hazelnuts to companies like Ferrero. However, the rush to meet demand has also led to some negative consequences, such as accusations of child labor being used on hazelnut farms in Turkey.

The expansion of palm-oil production in Indonesia and Malaysia has also come at the expense of vast swathes of rainforest, which Ferrero tries to counteract with sustainable sourcing and satellite monitoring of forest areas. The company’s efforts to ensure ethical and sustainable sourcing have been praised by environmentalists and farmers alike.

In conclusion, the popularity of Nutella has had a significant impact on the world’s economy, particularly in the hazelnut industry. While it has brought economic benefits to many countries, it has also led to some negative consequences that need to be addressed. Ferrero’s efforts towards sustainable and ethical sourcing are commendable and should be emulated by other companies in the food industry.

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