Jar wars: the Italian plot to weaken Nutella

Nutella faces virtually no major competition as a mass-marketed brand with 54 percent of the global market for chocolate spreads. (AFP)
Updated 21 November 2018
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Jar wars: the Italian plot to weaken Nutella

  • Nutella, invented by family-owned firm Ferrero, is a favorite among sweet-toothed youngsters at home and abroad
  • Barilla is preparing to launch a chocolate spread next year in a major challenge to Nutella

MILAN: Chocolate spread Nutella has long had pride of place on supermarket shelves but faces imminent attack from an Italian rival usually found in the pasta section.
Italy’s Barilla, known internationally for its spaghetti and maccheroni packaged in blue boxes, is preparing to launch a chocolate spread next year in a major challenge to the brand that became a global phenomenon in the 1980s, sources said.
Nutella, invented by family-owned firm Ferrero, is a favorite among sweet-toothed youngsters at home and abroad and generates annual sales of more than €2 billion ($2.3 billion).
With 54 percent of the global market for chocolate spreads, Nutella is the leader and faces virtually no major competition as a mass-marketed brand.
Cokokrem of Turkey’s Yildiz Holding is the second most popular spread with a share of only 2 percent, according to market research provider Euromonitor International.
But two sources familiar with Barilla’s plan say its new spread, Crema Pan di Stelle, seeks to exploit a perceived weakness of Nutella: its use of palm oil.
The ingredient has drawn a consumer backlash due to health and environmental concerns. Ferrero launched an ad campaign in 2016 to defend its use of palm oil, saying it was safe when refined at controlled temperatures and that the company only bought oil from sustainable palm plantations.
Barilla decided to mount a challenge to Nutella after sensing that Ferrero was starting to encroach on the pasta-maker’s lesser-known biscuit business, one of the sources said.
Industry sources said Ferrero will launch a Nutella-filled biscuit next year, seen as a direct challenge to Barilla’s own chocolate cookie brand, Baiocchi.
Ferrero declined to comment on the new biscuit.
To take on Nutella, Barilla has prepared a recipe that contains sunflower oil, 10 percent less sugar, Italian-only hazelnuts and cocoa from sustainable farms, one source said.
Barilla, also a family-owned firm, has presented its spread to buyers at major supermarket chains and could launch it as soon as January in Italy, the sources said.
Still, it faces a tough challenge.
One industry expert said it could cost several million euros just to secure a spot on the same supermarket shelves as Nutella, which commands a premium eye-level position.
“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,” said Marco Eccheli, director at the Italian unit of consulting firm AlixPartners.
Contacted for a comment Barilla said it would answer questions about new products in coming weeks.
The name Crema Pan di Stelle is taken from another of Barilla’s successful biscuits brands, Pan di Stelle or ‘bread of the stars’ which is sold mainly in Italy.
“It will contain crumbles of Pan di Stelle cookies to make it taste crunchy,” the source said.


’Blurred Lines’ legal saga ends in $5mn ruling favoring Marvin Gaye family

Updated 14 December 2018
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’Blurred Lines’ legal saga ends in $5mn ruling favoring Marvin Gaye family

  • “The verdict handicaps any creator out there who is making something that might be inspired by something else,” Pharell Williams said
  • The initial award in the case had triggered an angry response from many songwriters, who argued that there were major differences between the two songs at the center of the legal battle

LOS ANGELES: A long-running copyright dispute over the smash hit “Blurred Lines” has ended with the family of Motown legend Marvin Gaye winning a nearly $5 million judgment against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams.
Thicke and Williams had been accused by Gaye’s estate of copyright infringement for their 2013 hit because of similarities with the late singer’s “Got to Give It Up.”
In 2015, the estate was awarded more than $7 million but the amount was later reduced to $5.3 million
Thicke and Pharrell appealed that judgment and a California judge earlier this year overall upheld the jury’s decision.
In a December 6 final ruling in the case made public on Thursday, US District Judge John Kronstadt ordered Thicke, Williams and Williams’ publishing company to pay Gaye’s estate $2.9 million in damages, US media reported.
Thicke was ordered to pay an additional $1.76 million. Williams and his publishing company must also separately pay Gay’s estate nearly $360,000.
Gaye’s family was also rewarded 50 percent of the song’s royalties.
The verdict caps a long-drawn legal battle that was closely watched by the music industry.
The initial award in the case had triggered an angry response from many songwriters, who argued that there were major differences between the two songs at the center of the legal battle, including the melodies and lyrics.
Williams, a popular songwriter who had another smash hit with “Happy,” said in an interview in 2015 that all creative people had inspirations.
“The verdict handicaps any creator out there who is making something that might be inspired by something else,” he said at the time.
“If we lose our freedom to be inspired, we’re going to look up one day and the entertainment industry as we know it will be frozen in litigation.”
Representatives of both Williams and Thicke could not be immediately reached for comment.