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A dark, handsome rival plans to muscle in on Nutella

Jars of Nutella chocolate-hazelnut paste is seen in this picture illustration taken October 22, 2017. Picture taken October 22, 2017.
REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
Inimitable, but perhaps not irreplaceable.
By Natasha Frost
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

It’s being called the jar wars.

For decades, the Italian spread known as Nutella has sat placidly upon its throne—the undisputed queen of the chocolate (and chocolate-hazelnut) spreads, with 54% of global market share. Now there’s a pretender looming in the wings.

Pasta manufacturer Barilla—you know them by their blue boxes—is formulating a rival chocolate spread that aims to knock Nutella from its lofty shelf. The spread is to be called Crema Pan di Stelle—a liquid form of the famous, star-studded chocolate cookies.

There’s another important difference: Where Ferrero’s Nutella is made with palm oil, controversial for its role in massive deforestation in Southeast Asia, Crema Pan di Stelle will reportedly use sunflower oil, alongside 10% less sugar, patriotic Italian-only hazelnuts, and sustainably grown cocoa. As Reuters reports, it will also contain crumbled Pan di Stelle cookies, to add extra crunch.

Ferrero’s use of palm oil in Nutella has proven increasingly contentious among Italian consumers, who cite health and environmental concerns. A 2016 ad campaign from Ferrero, which touted the sustainability of its chosen palm oil, has done little to mitigate their anxieties. Now, Barilla hopes to capitalize on them instead.

The timing may be sweet for the rivalry. Ferrero is said to be planning to make moves into the baked-good industry, threatening Barilla’s own confectionery brand, Baiocchi, with a crunchy, Nutella-filled concoction. This swipe at Nutella’s €2 billion of annual sales might seem hostile—but in the end, it could be just be the way the cookie crumbles.

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