Blog: just-food makes history in Italy

Sam Webb | 26 October 2011

At the beginning of this week I went to Italy to see the global confectionery giant Ferrero's factory in Alba.

The site is impressive. We were told that it is so vast it consumes the same amount of electricity as a town of 33,000 people. It even set up a power joint venture with an existing energy provider in order to meet the factory's needs.

Ferrero produces 28 different products at the site, which employs 3,225 staff, serves 50 markets and rolls out 188,400 tons of finished product a year. It also consumes 20,000 tons of raw hazelnuts and, handily, is slap bang in the middle of Italy's main hazelnut growing region.

As I awkwardly put on a fetching hygienic paper suit, a press spokesperson for the family-owned company pointed out that myself and the other journalists I was with would be the first-ever journalists to step inside the plant. Not just journalists from outside Italy, the first-ever journalists. I had remarked to one of my peers on the way in about how tight security seemed and we had been pre-warned that photography inside the plant was strictly not allowed because Ferrero develops and uses its own production technology.

When we were driven to the first part of the factory tour (yes, it's so big you have to be driven around it) I made sure I was right behind the production manager through the door, even saying "first" under my breath, like a chocolatey Neil Armstrong.

What I am at liberty to tell you is that the production process for the company's iconic Ferrero Rocher chocolates was a sight to behold. The vast, imposing machines handled the fragile treats with astonishing accuracy and speed.

While there I spoke to Christian Walter, the UK managing director of Ferrero, about the company setting up a factory in the UK and the recently opened production site in India.

There's more to come about Ferrero, so keep checking just-food.


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