Ferrero, the maker of Nutella—a giant company based in Alba, Italy—uses about a quarter of the world’s hazelnut supply (that’s more than 100,000 tons every year). Makes sense, seeing that a Nutella bar opened inside Eataly in NYC earlier this year, and an all-Nutella restaurant is now open in Brooklyn.
Not surprisingly, this has pushed up hazelnut prices, reports NPR. Most hazelnuts come from a narrow strip of land along the coast of the Black Sea in Turkey, making them relatively hard to come by. NPR writes,
But a late frost in Turkey cut the country’s hazelnut production in half, which made prices spike even further. They’re up an additional 60% since the frost.
Now, farmers in Chile, Australia, New Jersey, and Oregon are trying to get in on the hazelnut-growing game. Plant breeders and researchers at Rutgers University and Oregon State University are figuring out how to grow valuable European hazelnuts (opposed to the less sought-after North American variety) without having them be susceptible to Eastern Filbert Blight. This is a disease, caused by a fungus, that has historically killed the European hazelnut tree in America.
Rutgers plant scientist Thomas Molnar tells NPR that his trees are thriving and producing a lot of nuts. Thank god, because a full-blown Nutella shortage would not be pleasant for all those people who live off of Nutella doughnuts.