Nutfruit magazine discusses with Nathalie Garrigue, General Manager of Barry Callebaut’s main nuts company La Morella Nuts, on the state of the nuts industry, new trends and the strategy undertaken by the company to become the number one in specialty nuts.
Barry Callebaut bought la Morella 4 years ago because we thought that this segment product fits perfectly with chocolate. But not only with chocolate because nuts also combine extremely well with our different customers and market segments such as ice cream, confectionary, bakery, dairy and pastry. This is a plus for Barry Callebaut.
Since Barry Callebaut acquired La Morella, how has the company performed to achieve the objectives marked in the strategic plan?
We were looking for acquiring a company with great products, and afterwards to fit the markets with our strategy plan to put La Morella Nuts at Barry Callebaut’s level.
First of all, it means products: how to make more innovation on specific products matching with our customers. Then, we apply Barry Callebaut’s Quality Culture to La Morella so as to match with the new requirements of the biggest players and customers in the market. It is important to notice that although we are Barry Callebaut an international company, we preserve the local culture and coat our products with this fresh Mediterranean taste.
Which are the main nut varieties?
We mainly produce with fresh hazelnuts and almonds with great size and taste. We have pistachios, macadamias, walnuts and pecans, and we are within a new trend with cashews. But these really are part of a market niche. Biggest ones are hazelnuts and almonds.
Nowadays, Barry Callebaut’s nut unit is mainly focused in Europe. Are you planning to expand to new markets?
We are doing a lot in Asian markets. It’s true that we are more developed in Europe but we are focusing on other emerging markets for nuts. We adapt our products to new markets. One year and a half ago we bought American Almonds. Barry Callebaut acquired this company to produce specialty nuts. Almonds are very important in USA. They also have importations of hazelnuts from the Mediterranean region, as others nuts but in US they don’t have this behavior on producing specialty nuts so that’s the reason why we decided to take that step.
What do the concepts ‘local’ and ‘fresh’ represent in Barry Callebaut’s mindset?
These are essential concepts for us. At Barry Callebaut we work in the most efficient, responsible and sustainable possible way. Our first sourcing is the region where we are located. We want a responsible and sustainable sourcing. When we talk about fresh products it means that we crack nuts 3 or 4 days before production because we are near our farmers. Freshness is key for premium products. We don’t want to be a nuts commodity or a medium partner. We just want to be a premium partner.
For almonds, our sourcing is mainly Spain but also California. For hazelnuts we have Italy, which is also near. We try to source locally, or at least close to our factories. We are sourcing around the Mediterranean because we want to propose fresh Mediterranean nuts.
It is possible to maintain these close bonds with nut farmers in a global market?
We are doing the same for cocoa in countries like Ghana and Ivory Coast. Being so close to our farmers allows us to control sourcing. We are applying the same model for nuts. It means that you cannot achieve a good quality without a good traceability. And for a good traceability you need to be close to the farmers.
We are now studying a new sustainability program that will be launched next year. We are working with different organizations, cooperatives and farmers to assure and guarantee fair fees for the farmers, sustainability, respect for the environment, water supply and maintaining these close relationships with local players.
Nuts and chocolate result in endless combinations. Where are the opportunities in terms of new markets, products and consumers?
Nuts and chocolate make a perfect marriage so we can have endless combinations to propose to our customers in B2B [business to business market]. We can inspire our customer so they can have a perfect blend between chocolate and this special taste of nuts which is highly appreciated in the market.
Do you include gourmet products within these new opportunities?
Barry Callebaut deals in a B2B market. We are the number one in chocolate and cocoa and want to become number one in specialty nuts (meaning not raw). We apply several key processes to our products. I have already mentioned sourcing, but we have also roasting, by which we obtain different tastes, and caramelization. We supply specialty nuts to the B2B market so as to produce gourmet products or add a gourmet touch to specific products. We are talking about retailers, restaurants, pastry…
The main trends emerging in the nut industry are…
We have a new generation of consumers willing to share everything with friends and family. And we are here with the premium essence of our products, with a multisensorial experience that we can bring to these consumers.
New trends have to do with freshness, natural products, partnership with the farmer, traceability, sustainability…
What are these new generations of millennials demanding when consuming chocolate and nuts products?
They are looking for some choice with really great combination, with great taste. It must be good and healthy. With nuts and chocolate, we are so well connected with them. Healthy products, good taste, simplicity and authenticity are key elements to keep in touch with these new generations.