How nutty is Nutella? Closer look at the ingredients in the popular spread

IMG_5402I once tried making my own chocolate hazelnut spread just to see if I can easily get a tastier and healthier version at home. After a long ordeal and a pile of dishes hours later I decided once is enough:-) There are recipes for nutty spreads that make it seem like a piece of cake, but that’s not what happened.

I roasted and peeled my organic hazelnuts and started processing them with the rest of the ingredients, but my brand new Vitamix got heated and turned itself off. Yeah, nuts will do that even to a powerful motor. The mixture was not even close to the texture I wanted.

So I put it in a small chopper/processor to improve it while my Vitamix was cooling off. The texture still sucked. The last desperate attempt to get a decent spread was to run the whole mix through my vertical Omega juicer. It did the trick and I finally got as close as possible (pictured above), but I was left discouraged. I know now that if I ever get a craving for some chocolaty nut butter, I’m not gonna break my Vitamix for it.

Anyway, back to Nutella. I’ve searched for available information to get you more specific details than you can find on the label. The ingredients are as follows:
sugar, palm oil, and hazelnut (13%), cocoa solids (7,4%) and skimmed milk powder and whey powder, soy lecithin and vanillin (0.08g)

As you can see, the main ingredient in Nutella® is white sugar and there’s plenty. Based on the official website they use beet sugar and/or refined cane sugar, depending on the production location. The good news is that the sugar is 100% non-GMO. The whole Ferrero Group doesn’t use GMOs in its products which I appreciate.

The next baddie in the jar is palm oil which has good properties (it doesn’t oxidize as easily as other vegetable oils), but it is problematic because the conventional production contributes to deforestation and species extinction etc. Nutella contains sustainable palm oil, 100% certified segregated RSPO (separated from conventional palm oil along the whole supply chain) with) 99.5 % traceability of the plantations they source from. They also work on reforming the palm oil industry with POIG (Palm Oil Innovation Group).

The hazelnuts used in Nutella apparently come from Turkey and Italy, mostly grown by small holders. The cocoa is mainly from Western Africa. The goal is to have 100 % certified sustainable cocoa by 2020. And the lecithin is traceable and non-GMO.

As you can see, it’s not all bad, but the amount of hazelnuts and cocoa is not massive. It is very sugary, so I’d say moderation is key here.

If you want a healthier or nuttier alternative, visit a health food store. There are good alternatives with less sugar, more nuts and cocoa. Read the labels. Some manufacturers will also have a mark for sustainable palm oil. It’s hard to find a spread without it, but Nocciolata uses only sunflower oil for example and is organic.

Brands to try: Rapunzel (wide range of spreads), Nutiva (classic and dark versions), Nocciolata (also dairy free version)

For example, Rapunzel’s Samba Dark contains 45% hazelnuts, 15 % cacao powder, bourbon vanilla and other organic ingredients.