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.


First sounds of wind on Mars captured by InSight spacecraft

Updated 09 December 2018
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First sounds of wind on Mars captured by InSight spacecraft

  • 20 second audio clip shows sound of wind on Mars
  • Clip also supports evidence of wind speed and direction on Mars

DUBAI: An audio clip of the first sounds captured on Mars by its latest inhabitant, the InSight probe, was released last week, British broadcaster BBC reported.

The clip, 20 seconds long, has captured the sound of the wind on the desert planet.

InSight carries a British-made seismometer package, which was able to detect the vibrations from Martian air rushing over the solar panels.

Professor Tom Pike, leading the seismometer experiment from Imperial College London, likened the placement of the solar panels to the robot “cupping its ears”. “[They are] the perfect acoustic receivers.” he said.

The wind on Mars moves from the northeast to the southeast at about five to seven meters per second, according to the latest estimates. This falls in line with evidence shown by satellite pictures that display the tracks left by dust devils travelling in the same direction.

 “This is brilliant news because it means we know the sensors have survived the rigors of landing on Mars and are meeting the requirements to achieve their science goals,” Sue Horne, head of space exploration at the UK Space Agency, told the BBC.

“It is just amazing to hear the first ever sounds from Mars,” Horne added.

InSight landed on Mars on November 26th, following a six-month journey from Earth. Its overall aim is to study the world's interior from the mission site, a flat plain just north of Mars's equator.