Ferrero SpA (Italian pronunciation: [ferˈrɛːro]) is an Italian manufacturer of branded chocolate and confectionery products and it is the third biggest chocolate producer in the world. It was founded in 1946 in Alba, Piedmont, Italy by Pietro Ferrero, a confectioner and small-time pastry maker who laid the groundwork for the Nutella and famously added hazelnut to save money on chocolate. The company saw a period of tremendous growth and success under Pietro's son Michele Ferrero, who in turn handed over the daily operations to his sons. His son Pietro (the founder's grandson), who oversaw global business, died on April 18, 2011, in a cycling accident in South Africa at the age of 47. Reputation Institute's 2009 survey ranks Ferrero as the most reputable company in the world. Ferrero SpA is a private company owned by the Ferrero family and has been described as "one of the world's most secretive firms". The Ferrero Group worldwide – now headed by CEO Giovanni Ferrero – includes 38 trading companies, 18 factories, approximately 21,500 employees and produces around 365,000 tonnes of Nutella each year. Ferrero International SA's headquarters is in Luxembourg. Its German factory is the largest of all and Pasquale Giorgio is its current CEO.
In 1946, Pietro Ferrero invented a cream of hazelnuts and cocoa, derived from Gianduja and called it "Giandujot", or Pasta Gianduja. The initial product came in solid loaves wrapped in aluminium foil, which had to be sliced with a knife, and was succeeded by a spreadable version Supercrema.
With assistance from his brother Giovanni Ferrero, Pietro Ferrero created his new company to produce and market the initial product. Following his work, Pietro was succeeded by his son Michele Ferrero as chief executive. Michele and his wife Maria Franca relaunched his father's recipe as Nutella, which was first sold in 1964. After World War II, they opened production sites and offices abroad and Nutella eventually became the world's leading chocolate-nut spread brand. Ferrero is the world's largest consumer of hazelnuts, buying up 25% of global production in 2014. The company is currently run by Giovanni Ferrero, grandson of Pietro and son to Michele Ferrero.
The company places great emphasis on secrecy, reportedly to guard against industrial espionage. It has never held a press conferenceand does not allow media visits to its plants. Ferrero's products are made with machines designed by an in-house engineering department.
In addition to Nutella, Ferrero produces many other products including Ferrero Rocher, Pocket Coffee, Mon Chéri, Giotto, Confetteria Raffaello coconut cream candy, Hanuta chocolate hazelnut-filled wafers, the Kinder line of products, as well as the Tic Tac breath mints. A dark chocolate version of the Ferrero Rocher is also available, called the Ferrero Rondnoir, which contains a pearl of dark chocolate in the center instead of a hazelnut, chocolate cream instead of hazelnut cream and crunchy chocolate bits instead of crushed hazelnuts. There is also a coconut version, Confetteria Raffaello, which contains coconut cream surrounding an almond and covered with meringue and shredded coconut. The Ferrero Prestige collection is a set of three pralines: Rocher, Rondnoir, and a coconut version called Garden Coco. The Garden Coco candy is similar to the Confetteria Raffaello, but has milk cream instead of coconut cream.
Ferrero also produces the Kinder product series, including Kinder Surprise or Kinder Sorpresa in Italian (also known as "Kinder Eggs"), Fiesta Ferrero, Kinder Chocolate bars, Kinder Happy Hippo, Kinder Maxi, Kinder Duplo, Kinder Délice, and Kinder Bueno.
In 2011 Ferrero introduced a line of frozen products called "Gran Soleil". It is a shelf-stable frozen dessert which has to be shaken, and if left overnight in the freezer, can be eaten as a sorbet. The company received an innovation award for the product in March 2011.
In September 2013 Ferrero gained Vegetarian Society approved status in the UK for a number of leading brands including Nutella and Ferrero Rocher.
In June 2015, it was announced that Ferrero would buy the British chocolate maker Thorntons for £112 million.
In 1983, the Ferrero Foundation was established in Alba, Piedmont at the wish of Michele Ferrero. The foundation promotes activities in the areas of art, science, history and literature by organizing conventions, conferences, seminars and exhibitions. It also offers health and social assistance to ex-employees of the group for at least 25 years.