Loacker presents the "Tuscan Hazelnuts" Project.
Around 25,300 hazels were planted in the last 5 years in Loacker’s agricultural business. The aim was to meet the company’s need for Italian hazelnuts, one of the fundamental ingredients in wafer preparation.
Hazelnuts have always represented one of the main ingredients for Loacker when producing its wafers. However, Turkey enjoys the monopoly over the hazelnut market, producing around 70% of global hazelnut production, which strongly influences its price. Even though the Italian hazelnut is of higher quality, Italy only ranks second on the market with an approximate share of 14%. This explains why hazelnut availability is extremely limited and prices are subject to fluctuations for companies who, like Loacker, exclusively use the Italian variety.
Hence the birth of the long-term ‘Tuscan Hazelnuts’ project launched by Loacker in 2011. The project found a potential new plot of land to grow hazels in the Maremma area of Grosseto. The works started in 2014: the first 50 hectares of hazels and around 25,300 trees were planted in the Corte Migliorina farm owned by Loacker, located in Fonteblanda, in the municipality of Orbetello. The farm isn’t only a production site, but also a research centre and supports local farmers by implementing best agricultural practices.
Even ‘Regione Toscana’ expressed its gratefulness for the ‘Tuscan Hazelnuts’ project. Marco Remaschi, Agricultural Councillor for Tuscany, said “Loacker’s interest to open one production site in Maremma certainly proves the value of our lands and people working on them. I would like to highlight two aspects: first, this is an all-round innovative project, thus representing a stimulus for agriculture in the whole area; furthermore, it also focuses on producing Tuscan hazelnuts, a field which is attracting more and more attention from international production.”
Since 2012, Loacker has invested around €6 million in its farm comprising around 210 ha, 170 ha of which are dedicated to growing hazels. The main investments focused on preparing the soil, selecting, purchasing, and planting the trees, remotely controlled and completely automated cutting-edge irrigation systems using top-notch Italian materials, water wells and basins, technical infrastructure and housing. Around €6 million will be invested in 2017/2018 for growing the plants in the Tuscan Maremma area of Grosseto or neighbouring ones with the goal of satisfying the company’s demand for Italian hazelnuts. Lastly, Loacker has joined forces with the Tuscia University of Viterbo to co-finance a scientific project dedicated to hazelnuts, which will include on the field research on the Loacker farm.
The Loacker hazelnuts grown in Tuscany belong to all the Italian cultivars, including the Tonda Gentile Romana, Tonda Gentile Trilobata and Tonda di Giffoni, which are the most valuable in the whole world when considering their organoleptic properties.
This shifts the supply chain to a vertical model, allowing farmers and the industry to speak directly, removing middlemen from the equation. Loacker wanted to implement this vertical shift to guarantee the complete traceability of the product, from the moment it’s planted until it reaches the final consumer. The harvest will occur every year between mid-August and the end of September using dedicated machines that pick the product from the ground as soon as it matures and falls from the tree.
The Integrated Supply Chain Projecct (PIF) and its impact on the region
Loacker is also about to launch an Integrated Supply Chain Project (PIF) in the Tuscan Maremma together with local farming communities and businesses. Together with the already invested funds, in the following years Loacker will dedicate itself to purchasing other plots of land with the aim of creating hubs to unite the neighbouring plots (around 600 ha in total). Lastly, Loacker has joined forces with the Tuscia University of Viterbo to co-finance a scientific project dedicated to hazelnuts, which will include on the field research on the Loacker farm.
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