Feature Friday – Nutella and the richest candyman on the planet
19 February 2015 by Marketing Team
On Pancake Day you may have taken Nutella for granted, but do you know about the man behind the spread? Italian President Sergio Mattarella called Michele Ferrero ‘a champion of Italian Business’ and according to the Washington Post he was ‘A real life Willy Wonka’. The Godfather of contemporary hazelnut spread, Mr Ferrero reacted to post war cocoa rationings by adopting his father’s original recipe by adding vegetable oil to what was known at the time as ‘Gianduja’. In the process, he was able to create a creamy and spreadable chocolate flavoured spread which required only a small amount of cocoa, making the luxury taste of chocolate instantly more affordable.
Michele Ferrero gave his spread the name Nutella when entering the British market in 1964 and the name stuck. The product grew exponentially and today the iconic brand can boast worldwide sales of one jar every 2.5 seconds. Michelle Ferrero sadly passed away on Saturday at the age of 89 and Italy mourns a man who will be remembered as a true industrial giant.
The reference to Willy Wonka holds a certain truth: Remaining largely outside of the public eye, when Mr Ferrero did appear he would do so wearing large black sunglasses, a feature which became synonymous with his character. Tours of the Nutella factories were also banned in fear that the secret recipe may be discovered, a level of paranoid secrecy about ingredients in a similar vein to that of Coca Cola and KFC.
Yet despite his secretive nature, Ferrero remained a true member of the so called Salotto Buono; the elite clutch of industrial, financial and political power brokers that have controlled the Italian economy since the world war. During his lifetime he was able to amass an incredible $26.5 billion in personal wealth and today Nutella has a workforce of over 20,000 people. As well as Nutella, he over saw the development of other tempting products such as Ferrero Rocher chocolates, Kinder Eggs and Tic Tac sweets. According to a report in the Washington Post, The Ferrer Company alone consumes a barely believable 25% of the global hazelnut crop!
The future of the firm however looks all but certain at the moment with Michelle unfortunately losing one of his son’s, Pietro Ferrero, in a suspected heart attack whilst cycling in South Africa. His other son, Giovanni, is believed to be less focused upon taking up the reins from the great patriarch though of course only time will tell. Although Giovanni was made CEO of the company before Michelle’s death it is believed that he never truly retired.
In a rare interview, quoted in a Guardian article, Michelle Ferrero gave a great insight into his mantra; “Always act differently to the others, have faith, stay strong and put customers at the centre each day.”
As reported in our blog ‘The Big Business of Pancake Day’, Nutella sold 1 million jars in the UK during the week leading to Pancake day in 2014 with just as many expected to be sold this week…. It would seem Mr Ferrero’s outlook is certainly working.
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