08/18/2014 07:26 EDT | Updated 10/18/2014 05:59 EDT

Hazelnut Shortage: Nutella Prices To Soar

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Jars of nutella hazelnut chocolate spread, manufactured by Ferrero SpA, sit in boxes on a shelf inside a supermarket in Slough, U.K., on Monday, Sept. 3, 2012. U.K. retail same-store sales barely rose in July, according to the British Retail Consortium, as consumer confidence was undermined by the double-dip recession and the euro-area debt crisis. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
If you're about to pull a slice of bread out of the toaster, poised to 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 Nutella could be about to skyrocket.

Hazelnuts are more popular than ever — high in protein, fibre, vitamins and folate — and 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.

Turkey controls 70 per cent of the global market — but 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.

"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.

"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."

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.

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." 

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."


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