"We are a major player in the hazelnut market with 25-30% of the world production," Ferrero business development chief Ettere Fontana told the Nut Growers Society of Oregon, Washington & British Columbia earlier this year. However, the industry is threatened, he adds, by its high dependence on Turkey's 75% share of the world crop for much of its sourcing.
Oregon, he adds, can play a much larger role than the 4% of world supply it is currently providing, he notes.
"Developing new production scenarios is important to continued growth," he says.
One such scenario is to link closer to Oregon growers in partnership with Ferrero to focus on improved technology and management tools, Fontana says.
There is room for growth in the Willamette Valley, says company procurement head Stefano Gagliasso Ferrero.
"We are looking for long-term partners in Oregon," he says. "You have space to grow your acreage, and you have good quality, but the hazelnut business is moving strongly toward fresh consumption, and growers need to recognize this."
The company is interested in formalizing long-term relationships with Oregon growers, he adds.
While Ferrero's Nutella product is reaching soaring sales results today, the company is perhaps mostly recognized for its Ferrero Rocher, a highly popular chocolate treat introduced in 1982, becoming a world leader in the confectionary category as a creamy filled wafer with a hazelnut center.