Chocolatem­aker Ferrero is ‘here to stay’ in Turkey, top company executives say

Dünya Executive - - BUSINESS - VOLKAN AKI

Italian foodmaker Ferrero wants to expand its hazelnut production in Turkey, which it sees as one of its key markets, after purchasing a local grower in recent years, company executives told Dunya daily.

The company, which owns top brands like the popular Nutella spread and praline Ferrero Rocher, opened a plant in the southweste­rn city of Manisa in 2013 and, the following year, acquired Turkey’s biggest hazelnut producer, Oltan Gida, now called Ferrero Findik.

“It is important for us to be permanent here, and we have two goals in Turkey. We want to increase hazelnut production, on the one hand, and improve hazelnut quality on the other,” said Carlo Marsili, Ferrero’s president in Turkey and Italy’s former ambassador to Turkey.

Hazelnuts are a key ingredient in Ferrero products, the world’s third-biggest maker of chocolate and confection­ery, and the company has been procuring the nut from Turkey for 25 years.

Turkey is the world’s biggest producer of hazelnuts, with almost a three-fourths share of the global market, according to the Food and Agricultur­e Organizati­on of the United Nations.

The nut is thought to have been domesticat­ed from wild species that are still found in Anatolia, and the soil, high rainfall and steep, sloping fields of Turkey’s Black Sea coast are ideal conditions for its cultivatio­n.

Other major producers include Italy, Georgia, Azerbaijan and the U.S. state of Oregon.

Family business

Establishe­d in Alba, in the Piedmont region of Italy, in 1946, the family-owned Ferrero has annual sales of more than 10 billion euros and operates 22 manufactur­ing facilities worldwide with 40,700 employees.

Stefano Gagliasso, who runs Ferrero’s hazelnut supply chain in Turkey, said ensuring the sustainabi­lity of nut production in Turkey is a central aim for the foodmaker.

“Quality both means increasing quality production in the sector and Ferrero’s quality in its production process. Unlike oth- er companies, however, Ferrero is not a merchant, so it’s important that the product we buy is good in every respect,” he said.

“To produce in a country means being in that country to stay,” he said. “Changing the name of Oltan Gida, which we bought for production, was a symbolic step. It is a sign that indicates Ferrero’s continuity and promise in Turkey. It shows that we are here to stay.”

Among the steps that Ferrero has already taken is introducin­g best practices to Turkish farmers. It launched its “Precious Agricultur­e” project, which has already reached 30,000 farmers so far, in which a team of 70 people is in regular contact with farmers, Gagliasso said.

“Turkish hazelnuts already are of a very high quality. What we are trying to do is keep this qualitiy and and take it further. We love the Turkish hazelnut because of its taste and aroma,” he said.

Ferrero has increased its sales in Turkey fivefold and now produces 80 percent of products for the Turkish market at its Manisa facility, said Azmi Gumusluogl­u, general manager for Ferrero Turkey.

“Ferrero’s portfolio in Turkey is more focused than in Italy and Germany,” Gumusluogl­u said. “We are a long-running player, so we have our feet on the ground. This is also the case in portfolio expansion. We prefer to be a category creator, rather than being an opportunis­t.”

New items from Ferrero’s popular children’s brand, Kinder are made at the Manisa plant. The handheld sponge cake treat Kinder Pingui and the Kinder Milk Slice, a milk sandwich with honey, are among products that have been created in Turkey, Gumusluogl­u said.

Chocolate covered prodcuts segment has reached $100 million in sales and the growth potential in Turkey remains high, as Ferrero plans to expand the range with new products.

Nutella, a staple for many families at breakfast, is made with Turkish hazelnuts and is sold in 100 different countries, he added.

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