Ferrero has been investing in Australia for over 40 years and its commitment to Australian communities continues to grow
Ferrero Australia started in 1974 and since that time has sold in Australia and New Zealand famous Ferrero brands such as Tic Tac, Nutella, Ferrero Rocher, Kinder Surprise and Bueno. Ferrero established a manufacturing facility in Lithgow in 1977 and began to produce Tic Tac in the same year and Nutella in 1978. The company is one of Lithgow’s largest employers, with around 130 local staff working at the site.
Today, Ferrero’s production plant in Lithgow is a strategic hub in the company’s value chain, producing around 11,000 tonnes of Nutella using imported hazelnuts for the Australian market and also for South East Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Ferrero Australia’s Managing Director of Operations, Francesco Fusina, stressed the importance of company–employee relationships in the Lithgow facility, noting the number of staff who had more than 20 years of service.
This approach reflects Ferrero’s global corporate vision of supporting local communities through ‘sharing values to create value’.
The company continues to work hard to meet increasing demand for its product, with sales figures in Australia up 10 per cent in the last year as consumers continue to go nuts for tubs of the product. With foresight into this trend, in 2013 Ferrero announced the investment of A$70 million to establish a hazelnut plantation in the Riverina region of New South Wales. It is hoping that one day, the tubs of Nutella produced in Lithgow will be made with Australian-grown hazelnuts.
Ferrero’s hazelnut plantation is managed through its local subsidiary, Agri Australis, which is halfway through planting one million hazelnut trees across 2,000 hectares of paddocks near Narrandera. Once the trees reach full maturity, the farm will employ around 100 workers, producing an estimated 5,000 tonnes of in-shell hazelnuts – approximately 30 times the current amount yielded in Australia across all local producers.
Agri Australis General Manager, Claudio Cavallani, says the company hopes to develop relationships with local farmers to boost hazelnut output to 10,000 tonnes a year in the future. ‘We need to show local growers there will be an opportunity to grow the industry, and as a demonstration farm we are focusing our efforts on collecting data and sharing knowledge.’ According to Hazelnut Growers of Australia, only 150 tonnes of in-shell hazelnuts are produced locally each year, with more than 4,500 tonnes imported for food manufacturing.
Ferrero’s hazelnut plantation is a long-term investment in the Riverina’s agricultural sector and has the potential to be a valuable source of income and industry growth for the region’s farmers.