Nutella price could soar amid worldwide hazelnut shortage

If you're about to pull a slice of bread out of the toaster and slather on some hazelnut-based sweetness, you might want to ease up on the Nutella.

Bad weather and disease have choked the global supply of hazelnuts

A spike in the price of hazelnuts due to bad weather and disease has generated speculation the cost of Nutella could be about to skyrocket. (Rainer Zenz/Wikimedia Commons)

If you're about to pull a slice of bread out of the toaster and slather on some sweetness, you might want to ease up on the Nutella.

A spike in the price of hazelnuts due to bad weather and disease means the cost of the spread could be about to skyrocket.

Hazelnuts are more popular than ever — high in protein, fibre, vitamins and folate — and many people say they taste delicious when combined with chocolate in a breakfast spread.

But the cost of hazelnuts has soared by more than 60 per cent over the past year, after crop-killing hail storms and frost hit the world's biggest hazelnut producer, Turkey, which controls 70 per cent of the global market.

Even Canada's tiny home-grown supply is in jeopardy, devastated by a disease known as the Eastern Filbert Blight.

With the industry in crisis, Peter Andres, head of the B.C. Hazelnut Growers' Association, thinks the price of hazelnuts could now double.

"I don't think the public has any idea right now, in fact, I probably don't even have an idea. I know the price is going to go up."

"All of the orchards are threatened, they're all dying," said Andres, who is trying to encourage young farmers to take up the hazelnut torch by planting new disease-free trees.

Ferrero look to Canada for local nuts

Most of B.C.'s hazelnuts are consumed locally, but Andres says he's been approached in the past by Ferrero — the company that makes both Nutella and Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

The Italian company that buys about 25 per cent of the world's hazelnuts could be insulated from the shortage because they own Turkey's largest hazelnut processor.

Turkey controls 70 per cent of the global supply of hazelnuts. (Fir0002/Wikimedia Commons)

Nevertheless, Andres says, the firm, which has a plant in Brantford, Ont., is interested in securing stable, local supplies. 

Baba Shah, president of the Shah Trading Company, is also concerned. The company is a premium nut roaster, importer and wholesaler based out of Montreal and Toronto. 

Shah says he believes the price of Nutella will go up, but he also thinks discerning Canadians may feel the hazelnut pinch in other ways.

"They're used more in mixed nuts. So the ratio proportion of hazelnuts used in the mixed nut formula...people will reduce it,"  he predicted.

To make matters worse, Shah says California drought has pushed the price of almonds through the roof and it may be time to stockpile.

Regardless of any shortage, Alessandro Fonseca, who runs Trilussa Pizza and Pane​ in Vancouver, still serves up Nutella on one of his most popular pizzas.

Fonseca says he isn't worried about a hazelnut crisis and no matter what the price of hazelnuts or Nutella, people will still shell out.

"I put Nutella on the pizza for people that need sweetness in this world full of problems... When you eat Nutella pizza — bang! All the problem is gone."

With files from Jason Proctor