Italian food giant Barilla is reportedly planning to enter a new product category with the planned launch of a chocolate spread to rival Ferrero’s Nutella brand. 

Family-owned Barilla is better known for its portfolio of traditional pastas and sauces such as bolognese and arrabbiata. However, news agency Reuters reported, quoting unnamed sources, that the Ponte Taro-based business in the province of Parma is looking to roll out a chocolate spread in Italy named Crema Pan di Stelle.

Two sources quoted by Reuters said Barilla’s new spread seeks to exploit a perceived weakness of Nutella in that it uses palm oil. Barilla’s recipe contains sunflower oil, 10% less sugar, Italian-only hazelnuts and cocoa sourced from sustainable farms, one source claimed.  

The news agency said Nutella commands a 54% share of the global chocolate spreads market. And, according to data from Euromonitor International, the Cokokrem brand, produced by Turkey’s Yildiz Holding, holds just a 2% portion, making it the second-most popular brand.

When just-food contacted Barilla for comment today (21 November), the company referred this publication to the statement issued to Reuters which said: “Contacted for a comment Barilla said it would answer questions about new products in coming weeks.” 

Barilla plans to launch the spread in the belief Italy’s Ferrero is encroaching on the company’s more obscure biscuits business, according to one of the sources. Citing “industry sources”, Reuters reported Ferrero will launch a Nutella-filled biscuit next year, seen as a direct challenge to Barilla’s chocolate cookie brand, Baiocchi.

A Ferrero spokesperson declined to comment on questions from just-food on both Barilla’s chocolate spread launch and the biscuit claims.

Barilla has apparently presented its new spread to major supermarket chains and could launch it as soon as January in Italy, the sources said. 

“Crema Pan di Stelle will increase competition for Nutella in Italy thanks to the considerable brand awareness it has among domestic customers, but Barilla will find it difficult to take the challenge abroad,” Marco Eccheli, director at the Italian unit of consulting firm AlixPartners, told Reuters