Insights into the Ontario Hazelnut Industry’s Opportunities for Growth

Insights into the Ontario Hazelnut Industry’s Opportunities for Growth
Mar 22, 2019
By Denise Faguy
Assistant Editor, North American Content,

Industry identifies strategies for Ontario markets

The Ontario Hazelnut Association held its 10th annual Symposium in London, Ontario, on March 20, 2019, with the theme: Perspectives for Ontario Hazelnuts - An insight on industry opportunities.  As part of the symposium a recent study, commissioned by OMAFRA, was reviewed with symposium attendees.

While many farmers may have presumed that large retailers like Ferrero and Cadbury present the biggest market opportunities, the study identifies that small local Ontario retailers, may present better profits in the short term.


Key facts to understand the Ontario Hazelnut industry:

Turkey is the largest supplier of Hazelnuts in the world, providing 71% of the world’s supply. Italy is a distant second supplier, with 14.5% of production. The U.S. supplies 5.2% of the world’s supply.  Oregon is the largest supplier of hazelnuts in the U.S., accounting for 94% of U.S. production -- 96.8 million pounds or 44,000 metric tonnes.  By contrast, Ontario produced 1,800 pounds of hazelnuts in 2017, while BC produced 2,000 pounds.

According to the study, Canadian hazelnut importers pay about $3.50 per pound for product coming from Turkey or Oregon. These importers sell to Ontario distributors and major retailers at about $4.50 to $5.00 per pound while smaller retailers pay $6.00 to $8.00 per pound. Final price to consumers varies widely but ranges from as low as $8.00 to over $20.00 per pound.  Ontario hazelnut growers receive about $4.50 when selling to distributors and $8.00 to $14.00 per pound at farmers’ markets and at farm gate.


Study Growth Recommendations

The study also makes key recommendations for growth in the hazelnut industry.

Continue to increase crop production – experimental plantings are currently underway to identify the most productive and blight-resistant hazelnut trees in the Ontario climate, accounting for different growing zones.   The study found that retailers and food processors did not seem to have a strong preference for specific hazelnut varieties. 

Continue to sell at farmers’ markets – as the industry is still in growth mode, the report recommends that Ontario hazelnut growers continue to sell at farmers’ markets, as it is believed this will lead to the greatest margin on the product and therefore the highest profit at this time.

Sell to local specialized retailers and to small distributors/processors -- selling to local specialty retailers in the GTA and other cities in Ontario will continue to grow the market and the study found that these groups are open to purchasing hazelnuts from Ontario growers.  The study also recommended that the Ontario hazelnut industry should specifically target the smaller retailer and small distributor level by offering high quality product at competitive prices, thereby displacing the international markets.

The Study “Ontario Hazelnut Market Assessmen"t was prepared by Hart & Associates Management Consultants.

For more information, contact the Ontario Hazelnut Association.

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