July 31, 2021

Jean-Baptiste Santoul, CEO of Ferrero France

2.7 million Kinder Bueno bars are produced every day at the largest Nutella manufacturing site in the world in Villers-Ecalles in the suburbs of Rouen. (Illustration) (ALEXANDRE MARCHI / PHOTOPQR / L’EST REPUBLICAIN / MAXPPP)

With brands such as Nutella, Kinder, Mon Chéri or Ferrero Rocher, the group is the leader in chocolate confectionery in France. This multinational has 37,000 employees, including 1,400 in France. It achieves a turnover of 12 billion euros, which makes Ferrero the world number 3 in the sector.

We are in 1946 in Alba, Italy, when Pietro Ferrero, pastry chef by trade, has the idea that will make his family fortune. In the aftermath of the war, cocoa was scarce and he had the idea of ​​using Piedmont hazelnuts in a new recipe. With his brother Giovanni, he designs a mixture with these hazelnuts, cocoa, skimmed milk, sugar and vegetable oil. In post-war Italy this hardened dough, which children eat with bread, was very popular. The Ferreros open a factory to develop their product.

According to company legend, during the summer of 1949, the heatwave melted the bars of this chocolate. Giovanni Ferrero, Pietro’s brother, who died shortly before, decides to sell it as is, in small glass jars. The craze is immediate, so much so that the Ferrero decide to transform their stick into a chocolate and hazelnut paste, with a creamy texture that can be spread on bread. It was first sold under the name “Gianduja”, then “Supercrema”. In 1964 the product was finally renamed “Nutella”.

If for many children, the mention of Nutella makes them cry out for joy, among environmental defenders, we cry ecocide. In 2015, the controversy was at its height when Ségolène Royal, at the time Minister of Ecology, declared on television “that we must stop eating Nutella because it is palm oil”. Only 48 hours later, the minister backtracked and apologized on Twitter.

In fact, explains Jean-Baptiste Santoul, CEO of Ferrero France, “We fully assume the use of 100% sustainable palm oil since 2014. This product is guaranteed to be deforestation-free, the WWF itself, in its 2020 report named Ferrero as the most responsible company in the world with a score of 21.5 out of 22 in its ranking for sustainability on palm oil. ”

As for the accusations of nutritionists who say that Nutella promotes childhood obesity, they are brushed aside by Jean Baptiste Santoul: “Nutella should be eaten in moderation … We recommend 15 grams on a toast, which corresponds to 84 calories. A Nutella toast is no more calories than a toast buttered with jam.”