"We are in an envious position with demand exceeding our supply," says Tim Aman of the Oregon hazelnut industry. "Prices that were as low as 30-cents a pound several years ago are now up to $1."
As a result, hazelnut acres are on the increase in the state's Willamette Valley, the outgoing president of the Nut Growers Society of Oregon, Washington & British Columbia added at the organization's annual meeting in Portland, Ore.
At the same time, new varieties like the just-released Wepster are boosting yields, and Ferrero, the world's largest buyer of the crop, wants to partner with Oregon growers to assure a high-quality flow of product from the only place in the U.S. to grow hazelnuts.
So convinced is Ferrero that the industry will continue to grow that it plans to open a new processing facility in Mexico next year, providing a second regional outlet for Oregon hazelnuts to the current Canadian Ferrero plant.
Underscoring nut quality and product traceability as key issues of the industry today, Ferrero says there is "an opportunity for Oregon" to grow its market share and diversify its sales arena.
Founded in 1946, Ferrero remains a family-owned business today and is the hazelnut producers biggest buyer in the world.
What began as a pastry shop is now a third-generation business so focused on family values that it prescribes that business style to its 27,000 employees and 72 affiliated companies, 15 factories and 3 social enterprises – organizations created to assist African and South American development.
A $9 billion business today, Ferrero considers hazelnuts a key product among its 40 different retail items, including the popular Nutella brand.'