Bad News, Nutella Fans

by Elizabeth Ballou
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Time to hack into your life savings, kids. Nutella prices are going up, so your jar-per-day habit is about to get seriously expensive.

In my opinion, any Nutella fan experiences a "moment" in which she converts to the ways of chocolate spread and never goes back. It is part culinary and part spiritual, sort of like Paula Deen finding Jesus, except with more hazelnuts. And yes, dear readers, I do remember my own moment: buying some kind of deep-fried Nutella ball in Siena, Italy, and eating it with such gusto that I smeared it all over my chin and nose. (I kept finding bits of Nutella in my hair for the next 24 hours.) But for those of us who see Nutella as a lifestyle choice, not just a food item, our lives may be at the brink of tragic change: Hazelnut crop prices have increased by 60 percent, and the cost of Nutella may rise with them.

Turkey, the nation that supplies up to 70 percent of the world's hazelnuts, saw large amounts of frost damage affect its hazelnut crop (insert your preferred "winter is coming" joke here). This means that hazelnut buyers went scrambling after the product that remained, sending prices to a 10-year high. And who do you think is the world's top hazelnut customer? If you guessed Ferrero, the Italian manufacturer of Nutella, you're right on the money. A 13-oz. jar of Nutella contains 50 hazelnuts. Roughly 180 million kilograms of the stuff are produced yearly. That's 9 billion hazelnuts to keep up with past production, people.

Ferrero, which first introduced Nutella to the market in 1964 after experimenting with solid loaves of chocolate-hazelnut spread, is trying to make up for the hazelnut shortage. In July, it acquired Oltan, a Turkish hazelnut supplier. Even after that move, though, it's quite likely that Nutella prices are still going to increase. However, if you're anything like me, you'll probably grumble and whine, but still fork over your hard-earned cash. After all, how else are you supposed to make Nutella banana milkshakes? Or Nutella pockets? Or buy Nutella cronut holes without paying out the wazoo?

Ferrero remains optimistic about Nutella availability, however:

"Inclement weather last spring in Turkey has impacted this year’s hazelnut harvest. We are tracking this issue closely and there’s no foreseeable impact on the availability of Nutella. As always, we will maintain the high quality of the Nutella product that consumers know and love," a Ferrero-USA spokesperson told us via email.

But just in case, there are plenty of options out there that might be able to fill that Nutella-shaped hole in your heart. Mixing chocolate with peanuts or sunflowers can create a similar product, so read on:

1. Sunflower Nutella

Now, I am no DIY queen, but I do think some hazelnut-free alternatives you can whip up yourself are worth investigating. This recipe, penned by blogger MOMables, does exactly what it says on the tin: substitute sunflower seeds for hazelnuts. Combine it with cocoa powder, coconut oil, milk, maple syrup, and a little salt and vanilla extract, and you've got yourself a delicious (and budget-friendly) jar of chocolate-y goodness.

2. Dark Chocolate Dreams

This stuff, which is "like a peanut butter cup in a jar," combines peanut butter with chocolate to delicious effect. If you're a peanut butter fan, this might become your new favorite spread, ice cream topper, fruit complement, and so on. Even better, it's all-natural and certified vegan.

3. Nuttzo

Now, fair warning: This product does contain hazelnuts. But it's just one of seven nuts that goes into a jar of Nuttzo, so hazelnuts comprise much less of what you're spooning out of the jar (and don't try to act like you don't eat chocolate spreads straight out of the jar. We all do it). It's also made with Peruvian dark chocolate. Mmm.