Nutella was invented during WWII when cocoa was so hard to find that Italian chocolatier Ferrero decided to mix in hazelnuts. And that’s how Nutella was born.
However, our worldwide love of Nutella makes it pretty hard to produce enough hazelnuts. In fact, a quarter of all hazelnuts grown go into Nutella.
Nutella is hogging the hazelnuts
Don’t get us wrong, we’re not complaining. In fact, that’s how we prefer to eat out hazelnuts, and Nutella has a nice, small ingredient list. It’s just most nuts come from a small strip of land on the coast of Turkey – and they’re not easy to grow. However, those farmers have been growing hazelnuts for over 2000 years!
According to NPR (cited below), “Ferrero, the Nutella-maker, now a giant company based in Alba, Italy, uses about a quarter of the world’s hazelnut supply — more than 100,000 tons every year.”
Of course, this has pushed up the price of hazelnuts. And any time something goes wrong with the strip of land in Turkey, things get even worse (for example, they had a frost in 2013 that drove prices up 60%).
There are other places in the world where the nuts can be grown, for example, Chile and Australia – and even Oregon. But a disease called Eastern Filbert Blight has also threatened crops.
If you’re thinking of getting in on the hazelnut growing business, you might want to think twice. As Thomas Molnar, a Rutgers plant scientist told NPR: “If you just want to get one of these trees and grow hazelnuts in your backyard, though, Molnar does have a warning. “I haven’t seen any other food that drives squirrels more crazy than hazelnuts. Squirrels will do almost anything to get their greedy little paws on the nuts before you do.”