Nut Price Spikes Stoke Nutella Shortage Fears

It's not time to start stockpiling little jars of chocolate but poor weather in Turkey has sent hazelnut prices surging 60 percent to their highest levels in 10 years. That's unbottled speculation that Ferrero Rocher, the largest global buyer of hazelnuts, could be under pressure, especially with pricing and availability of its signature spread, Nutella. Hazelnut crops are currently estimated at around 520,000 tons, as much as 280,000 tons below initial estimates. "It’s difficult to know whether the fears of a Nutella shortage are overblown, but it is certainly feasible to expect extra pressure on supply in view of ongoing strong demand and a much smaller crop in Turkey, due to frost damage to the bloom in March," said Julian Gale, Food News deputy editor. "I don’t know whether Ferrero has enough contracts to weather fluctuations like this." Speculators in Turkey can fuel increases, added Gale, by holding back stock or exaggerating weather concerns. Reached for comment, a Ferrero USA spokesperson said, "We are tracking this issue closely and there’s no foreseeable impact on the availability of Nutella."

- Ben Popken