The hazelnut, currently considered a minor crop in Ontario, has gained tremendous interest due to the presence of guaranteed market demand and a predetermined buyer. Ontario-based Ferrero Canada, the manufacturer of the hazelnut-containing products Nutella and Ferrero Rocher, is the third-largest confectionary group in the world, requiring approximately 40% of the current global hazelnut supply. These hazelnuts must meet specific quality standards to retain aroma, taste and consistency during processing.
For many years, Ferrero Canada has attempted to source hazelnuts in North America. Unfortunately, the Ontario climate has hindered the ability of Ferrero to expand domestic cultivation. In partnership with the University of Guelph, this industry-academic partnership project will apply genomics to improve cold tolerance of hazelnuts to enhance the productivity, sustainability and profitability of this important crop for Ontario’s agri-food sector.