There are very few categories in the supermarket where there is basically one brand that owns the marketshare. It was P&Gs strategy for many years and served them well in the household product arena where they would make a superior product – send a sample out to just about every household in the nation and then, sit back and watch as their marketshare propelled and they became the number one brand in most of their categories. In the food aisles, we really have few examples that match the P&G model – but one – chocolate hazelnut spread – currently dominated by Nutella has a new competitor. It’s the fight between the Italian and French chocolate makers and the questions are if the category is big enough for two major brands … and who might win. February 5th was World Nutella Day, yes that’s a real thing, that was started by a blogger fan back in 2007. Nutella itself was introduced in 1964 by the Italian chocolate giant Ferrero (who also owns Kinder, Rocher and Tic Tac) – the recipe was based on a 1951 recipe for SuperCrema – a choclate paste that in the 40s was called Giandujot – named after a carnival character. It came to the US in the 1970s and one person who worked for Ferrero in NYC – Myrna Alpern – fell in love with Nutella and made it her passion to introduce it to supermarkets around the US and spent years sampling it herself to get shoppers to try and love it with the same passion. She was successful and created a new category. Now the world-renowned French fruit spread maker Bonne Maman – my favorite is the Orange Marmalade (which by the way was really hard to find during the pandemic!) is introducing their chocolate hazelnut spread next month – in March. Question is if retailers will see the category as large enough for two major players. Here are some differences between the brands. Bonne Maman comes in a glass jar that is very close to their iconic package for their fruit spreads. Nutella comes in a plastic jar – that probably most parents would prefer, while the glass is preferred by the true food aficionados. Bonne Maman contains no Palm Oil, while Nutella does, it is also non-GMO. The US Nutella is made in Mexico, Bonne Maman is made in France. The first ingredient in both, no surprise, is sugar. The second in Nutella is palm oil. In Bonne Maman it is hazelnuts. Nutella is 7.7 oz and in a scan of retailers here in Los Angeles sells for $2.99-$3.59. Bonne Maman is 8.8 oz and will retail for about $6.50. So the question – for about double the retail price – can Bonne Maman do battle with the Market Leader Nutella. It’s going to take a lot of marketing, sampling and coupons to fight this battle.
So how does it taste?
Well, it's interesting. Nutella tastes more hazelnut. Top line is for me, if it's for your kids putting it on pancakes, waffles, cookies, ice cream and s'mores, you might want to go that way. Also, because of the price Bonne Mamon and tastes more chocolate, it's got a much cleaner mouth feel, cleaner taste from vegetable oils versus the palm oil. It's more adult and has refined palate. And I've gotta say, when it comes to food products, taste is always number one.