Here's what it takes to produce the 250,000 tons of Nutella made every year. Thanks to Koen De Backer and Sébastien Miroudot's report "Mapping Global Value Chains" for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and data from Nutella manufacturer Ferrero, we now know exactly where Nutella comes from: all over the damn place.
Sold in 75 countries, Nutella is produced in nine facilities. Four are in Western Europe -Villers-Ecalles, France; Alba and Sant'angelo dei Lombari, Italy; Belsk, Poland; and Stadtallendorf, Germany. Another is located east of Moscow in Vladimir, Russia. Brantford, Canada hosts a plant, as does Lithgow, Australia. Finally, South America hosts two, one in Pocos de Caldas, Brazil, and another in Los Cardales, Argentina.
And the ingredients come from pretty much everywhere. Some are brought in locally when convenient, like plastic for the brand's unique containers or milk. The hazelnuts are from Turkey. The palm oil comes from Malaysia. The cocoa is grown in Nigeria's expansive fields, while most of the sugar comes from Brazil (but also Europe) and the vanilla from China (from a French manufacturer that also pumps out vanillin in France).
The authors used Nutella to argue that the global food supply chain is becoming more complex, especially with complex products that require many ingredients. They also note that "international fragmentation of production is a powerful source of increased efficiency and firm competitveness" - i.e., the ability to move around the various nodes of your chain of production is a good way to save costs, ensure efficiency, and give firms flexibility.
But these international supply chains have one weakness: maintaining a steady supply of oil for energy and transport. A multi-disciplinary study recently released by the University of Maryland called for immediate action to offset the high possibility that the next 17 years will see "peak oil," or the highest sustainable rate of oil production before declines in yields. The study found all major industrial sectors were at serious risk of economic damage from a hit to global fossil fuel supplies, including food processing, primary agriculture, metals, and transportation.
So eat up that Nutella while you have it, because in a decade or two, it might just be a luxury.