Cookie competition is driving Italian chocolatiers absolutely (hazel)nuts

Italian food and bev giants Ferrero and Barilla are locked in a bitter competition to create Italy’s favorite hazelnut-flavored cookie

December 30, 2019

Ferrero, the Italian food company coveted for its cocoa products, and Barilla, the Italian food purveyor prized for its pastas, are locked in a bitter competition to create Italy’s favorite hazelnut-flavored cookie.

For a long time, life was sweet for both Italian chocolatiers

After Ferrero introduced Nutella in 1964, the hazelnut spread became a global favorite. And Barilla’s Pan di Stelle breakfast cookies, which debuted in 1983, also quickly became a huge hazelnut hit.

For the most part, both companies stayed in their lanes — Ferrero kept its Nutella in its jar, and Barilla focused on its cookies. 

Then, Barilla tried to make its own Nutella…

And you’d be nuts to think Ferrero didn’t fight back. Here’s how it went down:

  • In 2018, Barilla’s Nutella knockoff, called Pan di Stelle Crema, launched.
  • In early 2019, after Barilla broke the chocolate ceasefire, Ferrero heightened the hazelnut hostilities by testing Nutella-flavored cookies outside of Italy.
  • Through most of 2019, Ferrero aggressively advertised its cookies across Italy.
  • In November 2019, Ferrero finally launched its Nutella cookies — called Nutella Biscuits.

And early sales were… sweet

Nutella Biscuits were a humongous hazelnut hit: Ferrero sold a stomach ache-inducing 5.9m boxes of its cookies in just 4 weeks.

Since then, the 2 chocolate colossuses have continued their cocoa competition: Barilla rolled out a new line of Pan di Stelle cookies just a month after Nutella’s launch.

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