Hazelnut crop expected to drop due to poor weather

Aug 15, 2014

Cost of hazelnuts increased by more than 60 percent

By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com

A bad growing season in Turkey is causing havoc among hazelnut producers and consumers alike. Turkey is considered a top producer of hazelnuts.  In fact, about 70 percent (three-quarters) of the world’s hazelnut supply is grown near Turkey’s Black Sea coast.

The harvest is expected to begin in the next few weeks, but a series of hail storms and frost in late March has left questions about how much of the crop is viable. And the uncertainty of supply has forced hazelnut prices to increase by more than 60 percent.

While the damage of the hazelnut crop is not yet fully known, early indications suggest that about 300,000 tonnes could be lost. Growers say that based on the bud count (hazelnuts are grown on trees), the crop is expected to be about 520,000 metric tons, while in a good year harvests can surpass the 800,000 metric tons mark.

Ferrero, which makes Nutella chocolate spread, is the largest global purchaser of hazelnuts. Interestingly, the nut shortage prompted the company to buy the Turkish hazelnut company Oltan, one of the largest producers and marketers of the nut. Hazelnuts are a key ingredient in Nutella and other Ferrero products, including Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

Oltan has annual revenues of more than $500 million and operates five production plants, which export to the European Union and other major markets. The deal occurred in July 2014, which upset competitors. Ferrero already consumes 25 percent of the world’s supply. Other countries, in particular Ontario, Canada, are experimenting with growing hazelnuts in order to fill future market demands for Ferrero Rocher.

The global shortage of hazelnuts has Nutella fans sharing the news with friends on social media sites and rushing to stock on their favourite chocolate spread.