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,

Karim Azzaoui, vice president for sales and marketing at BALSU USA, which supplies hazelnuts to the U.S., says the hazelnut trees grow on steep slopes that rise from the Black Sea coast. The farms are small; grandparents and children help to harvest the nuts, usually by hand. ‘It’s a very traditional way of life,’ Azzaoui says. ‘The Turkish family farmers are extremely proud of the hazelnut crop, as it has been part of their family history for centuries. Farmers have been growing hazelnuts here for 2,000 years.'”

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.

[via NPR]

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