No country in the world can challenge Turkey's position in hazelnut exports in the next 10-15 years, Stefano Gagliasso, Turkey General Manager for Ferrero's Hazelnut Company has said.
He added that the Italian chocolate maker - best known for brands like Nutella and Kinder - was ready to pay more for better quality hazelnuts.
Gagliasso said Ferrero's priority is quality not price. "We are not hazelnut traders. We use them in our products. We want to provide our customers with good quality products. We are ready to pay extra for quality hazelnuts and we did so this year," he said.
Touching on how some chocolate makers have stopped using hazelnuts in their products Gagliasso said: "For Ferrero that is not an option. We will continue using hazelnuts. That is why we are always looking for high-quality hazelnuts," he said.
Replying to claims that Ferrero has turned to hazelnut producers outside Turkey, Gagliasso said that there is no country that can take Turkey's position in hazelnut exports in the next 10-15 years. "Turkey controls more than 75 percent of the global hazelnut production," he said.
"There is no risk for Turkey here. For Turkey it is important to maintain the supply chain in line with the global demand for hazelnuts," he added. "Better quality, innovation and increased mechanization will all be very important for this. Along with the international market, we are ready to pay well for high-quality hazelnuts."
Meanwhile, Carlo Marsili, honorary president of Ferrero Turkey said in 2013 the company opened its 19th factory in Manisa, which produces not just for the Turkish market, but for the Middle East and North Africa as well.
Marsili added Ferrero's global turnover last year reached 10.5 billion euros, while Ferrero Turkey posted turnover worth 1 billion euros - including 700 million euros in exports.
"We are very pleased with the turnover and want to increase this figure this year," he said.
"Hazelnuts are one of our main ingredients. That makes Turkey very important since it is the world's largest hazelnut producer. We also buy hazelnuts from Italy, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Chile, but Turkey cannot be compared to the others. The quality of Turkish hazelnuts is very high," Marsili said.
"For instance, the quality hazelnuts from Giresun cannot be matched by any other place in the world. That's why the Italian town of Alba, where the Ferrero brand was born, has become Giresun's sister city.
Ferrero Turkey Board Member Aldo Kaslowski said Ferrero has made some important investments in Turkey. "We came to Turkey with a win-win principle in mind and will continue that way," he said.
He underlined that hazelnut producers should be supported to reduce costs and added that modernization was certainly needed to improve the quality and productivity.
"Reforms are essential in Turkey on these issues. As Ferrero, we are ready to help with technology transfer and working methods,"Kaslowski said.
TURKEY EARNS NEARLY $1.4B IN HAZELNUT EXPORTS IN 8 MONTHS
Turkey exported over 215,000 tons of hazelnuts in the first eight months of the export season, making over $1.36 billion, according to the national union of hazelnut exporters.
The export volume between September 2017 and April 2018 saw a 24.6 percent jump compared to the same period a year earlier, the Black Sea Hazelnut and Products Exporters' Union said.
More than 75 percent of Turkey's hazelnut exports during this period - worth around $1 billion - went to the European Union.
The country exported nearly 236,000 tons of hazelnuts and earned $1.88 billion during the entire 2016-2017 export season. Turkey is the world's largest exporter of hazelnuts.