Ferrero "in talks" with hazelnut co Oltan Gida

Ferrero "in talks" with hazelnut co Oltan Gida

Italian chocolate maker Ferrero is "in discussions" over a potential acquisition of Turkish hazelnut group Oltan Gida, just-food understands.

Turkish press reports this weekend suggested a deal has been reached that would see the Nutella maker take control of Oltan Gida. Representatives from Oltan Gida and Ferrero were not available for comment at time of press.

However, a source close to the situation told just food: "Something is under discussion. Nothing has yet been secured."

Oltan Gida supplies various hazelnut products - including roasted, bleached and chopped hazelnuts as well as hazelnut kernels, meal and paste - to overseas food manufacturers. The majority of its revenues are generated in the chocolate sector. According to its website, Oltan Gida's largest markets are Italy, England, France and Germany. The group also exports hazelnut products to the US, Japan, China, Australia, South Africa and Egypt.

Oltan Gida's annual turnover is "more than" US$500m, the company revealed. It operates five cracking plants, two hazelnut kernel selection plants and an integrated hazelnut processing plant in Turkey.

According to FAO figures, Turkey is the world's largest hazelnut producing country, accounting for 70% and 82% of the world's production and export respectively. However, this year Turkish production has been hit by cold weather, with severe frosts at the end of March causing prices to spike by around one-third.

Ferrero has made steps to increase its investment in securing hazelnut supply lately. Earlier this year Ferrero made a commitment to invest in hazelnut cultivation in Serbia in a bid to create a European "centre for hazelnut production". The company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Serbian government that saw it start its own hazelnut production on 1,000 hectares of land and establish co-operation agreements with local growers.