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Ferrero: Secrets of the Italian Excellence Behind Nutella

Think at Nutella and the first thing it will come to your mind is something 90% of people you know loves very much. It is one of the most iconic products that never miss in the shelves of supermarkets. The popular hazelnut chocolate spread is something so radicated in our culture that it is seriously difficult not to know at least a little this popular and delicious spread. Still, how much do you know about Nutella and the company behind it? This article is going to highlight some facts about one of the most loved chocolate brands of all time.

Some small cakes made with Nutella

Some small cakes made with Nutella

Nutella is Italian

The first premise may be considered obvious by many readers, still I happened to meet or chat with some locals in the USA believing Nutella is an American product, maybe made by Kraft Foods or other giant food multinationals. Nutella is Italian and it is the iconic product of one of the most successful companies we have here in Italy: Ferrero.

Ferrero: A Giant Family Company

The first thing it deserves to be mentioned about one of the most loved companies here in Italy is that Ferrero is a family run business. This means it is not like Nestlè, Mars, Kraft or other giant corporations that are essentially big stock companies where there is a delegated administration separated from the effective ownership, composed by an indefinite number of institutional and private entities investing in these companies through stock markets. Ferrero is owned and administered by a family: this is important in order to understand that, despite being this company a giant which is able to compete with the other big food multinationals, it is still managed and thought like if it was a traditional small business on which a single family makes a living, with the only difference this business has become so successful that went beyond the Italian market and conquered all the world. Moreover, the Ferrero family showed in several situations their bonds with the local community where they have grown: Alba, in the province of Cuneo, Piedmont, in Italy. This can be even more seen when you come to look at where the Ferrero global headquarters are effectively located: not big cities like Milan or Rome, but the same Alba town where they have started their activity as a local pastry shop before becoming the giant company everyone knows.

Some Kinder (a Ferrero brand) chocolate eggs sold in a cafe

Some Kinder (a Ferrero brand) chocolate eggs sold in a cafe

This strong attachment with the local areas is not the only thing that makes Ferrero unique: the company has also a specific corporate culture that gives the individual employee maximum importance, not only when it comes to their achieved results, but also to their wellness. Ferrero likes to consider all its employees like if they were ‘a giant family’, like if they are a sort of extension of the original family that conquered the chocolate shelves of shops of the whole world. Ferrero is one of the companies where Italian people would mostly love to work, as its corporate values are perceived in a very positive way, not much different than how are perceived the companies of Silicon Valley in the USA (and with a fascinating company history that puts this brand in the real life on the same level as it would be Wonka in the famous Charlie and the Chocolate Factory novel, of course without the fictional aspects of that novel; ironically the American Willy Wonka Candy Company has been purchased by Ferrero in 2018).

Some Ferrero snacks sold in a cafe

Some Ferrero snacks sold in a cafe

Not Only Nutella

Nutella is surely the most known product made by Ferrero: still the company is also known for Ferrero Rocher, the premium praline featuring an entire hazelnut and covered with a wafer and layers of milk chocolate and hazelnuts. The praline has a strong cultural presence and, after Nutella, is one of the most recognized products made by Ferrero. This chocolate is often associated to Christmas and celebrations in general. The name comes from Rocher de Massabielle, a grotto located in the well known Roman Catholic shrine of Lourdes. The same Michele Ferrero, inventor of this chocolate, is said to have created it as a tribute to the Virgin Mary.

A coffee served with a Ferrero Rocher praline

A coffee served with a Ferrero Rocher praline

A coffee served with Kinder Cards

A coffee served with Kinder Cards

Ferrero also makes several other products: the Kinder chocolate line, which is mostly targeted to children even if it is loved also by adults, is sold in most of the countries of the world, making it as global and famous as Nutella and Ferrero Rocher brands. Still, the company also makes other products that are sold in a limited number of countries: Raffaello, for example, is a praline similar to Ferrero Rocher, with the only difference it features an almond and coconut powder instead of hazelnuts and chocolate. Pocket Coffee, instead, is a chocolate filled with sweetened espresso coffee and mostly sold in Italy, where the culture of drinking espresso is more radicated than in other countries. Another product sold in Italy is Estathé, a line of iced tea drinks that puts Ferrero also in the market of beverages. Despite being sold in bottles and cans like most of the iced tea beverages, the classic way of selling Estathè is by putting it into plastic cups featuring a membrane that needs to be pierced with an attached straw: in this way, the iconic package of Estathè is not much different from the modern cups of bubble tea that are usually sealed in store and then pierced with the straw before drinking.

A can of Estathè cold lemon tea.

A can of Estathè cold lemon tea.

Some Ferrero brands on a price tag

Some Ferrero brands on a price tag

When Nutella Was Not The Only Ferrero Spread

Nutella, as written before, is one of the most known hazelnut chocolate spreads in the world, still, not many people know that this is not the only cream made by Ferrero. In the past, talking about the 80’s and the 90’s, the company tried to sell, as a local experiment (and also in the Yugoslavian market with the name ‘Kinder Lada’), a particular spread based that tasted exactly like Kinder chocolate, so it was something with more milk and sugar when compared with Nutella: try to imagine a Kinder chocolate bar melted in order to make a cream and some hazelnuts, then maybe you get the idea of what this spread was. It was called Kinder Primacrema (literally ‘First Cream’) and it was sold for a very short period as an experiment.

Some legends here in Italy state that this spread was so delicious that, during the sales, it even surpassed Nutella. Due to - maybe - the strong importance Ferrero gives to the Nutella brand (to give an idea, even businesses can’t refer to it just because they use the product, but they have to abide to specific conditions), Ferrero decided to cannibalize the Kinder Primacrema in order to ensure Nutella supremacy among spreads. In Italy there is even a Facebook page as a tribute to this legendary product: many nostalgic people would love to taste again this delicacy. In the meantime, stating to comments of people who have tried it, you can try to melt a Kinder chocolate, egg or even taste the cream inside Bueno in order to get the nearest tasting experience.

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The Woman Owning Ferrero

Of course everyone knows Ferrero family by name, as the company is called after them. The whole family is involved into the company administration, still, who is the real owner of all the empire? Her name is Maria Franca Fissolo. The woman is the widow of Michele Ferrero and lives in Monaco.

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There is surely much to say about the family who started from a local pastry shop in a small Italian town and conquered the world (a fascinating story that doesn’t sound much different from those of geniuses of Silicon Valley who started empires from garages). Italy is well known in the world for many positive and negative things. When it comes to entrepreneurs, we have ignorant people like a certain stylist who insulted the Chinese people 3 years ago, then we have people like the Ferrero’s: these last ones are those that keep high the name of this country in the world. Ferrero is actually one of the companies that best represent Italy and make Italians proud of.

© 2021 Alessio Ganci

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