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  • Hazelnut production in Italy

    Jul 20th, 2016

    Hazelnut cultivation is becoming quite popular once again in Italy due to various reasons - yields per 100 kg have increased recently (with peaks up to $15 thousand) while production costs are rather low. In addition, international demand is quite high, especially from the chocolate industry. Last but not least, the first considerable quantities can now be obtained after three/four years of planting. Hazelnut trees fully develop on the seventh year and, from there, can last for decades.Besana Spa CEO Riccardo Calcagni explained that "thirty years ago, the Turkish government used to withdraw great quantities from the market to keep prices high and gain the consent of the many growers on the Black Sea. Therefore, the fact that hazelnut prices have always varied a lot must not come as a surprise. Nowadays, however, oversupply is no longer a problem. Global consumption has increased a lot thanks to the chocolate industry and to the fact people are more aware of the benefits of nuts."

    Riccardo Calcagni

    Turkey remains the leading producer, though it is expected to produce less this year. "Estimates talk about 468 thousand tonnes but I'm not sure whether I fully trust this data. Suffice to say that supply will not be lacking this year."

    The leading producers are Turkey and Italy, though Georgia, Azerbaijan and Oregon (US) are also big producers. "Serbia, Romania and the Balkans are also becoming interested in hazelnut cultivation. This is a positive thing, because it would mean we will not depend too much on Turkey for the future."

    The situation in Italy

    The 2016 hazelnut production has been estimated at 130 thousand tons. "Last year, we managed to reach 120 thousand tons after many years under the 100 thousand tons. Until 25-30 years ago, Italy produced much more hazelnuts, but then this fruit was put aside for a number of reasons."Italy typically grows the Corylus avellana variety which, unlike the Turkish type, detaches naturally from the husk and falls to the ground. It is then dried (sun or hot air) and shelled if needed. Hazelnuts can last for up to two years (in shells). Yields in Italy are 2 tons per hectare. Value can reach €2.50/kg and "the commitment in terms of working hours/man and harvesting costs is really low, so it is easy to see why producers are interested." When asked about the risk of planting too many trees, Calcagni answered that "provided that we focus on marketing, introduce new products and conquer new markets, there should be no problem."