Italy’s Nutella Lobby

Italians take food very seriously. There is a lot of great food in Italy to take seriously — prosciutto, parmigiano, wines — and Italians have, turning Bel Paese foods into the most certified of the EU.
But you can never be too vigilant.

A headline declared that a group was going to lobby Parliament about the plight of Nutella, Italy’s addictive chocolate and hazelnut spread. It seems there’s a nasty question of doubling the VAT on chocolate from 10% to 20%.

Northern League politician Paolo Grimoldi is outraged at the proposal from opponent Romano Prodi’s center-left government, declaring to news agency ANSA: “Nutella is a symbol for whole generations. This new tax will touch the pockets of all Italian families and in particular all of our children.”

Wow. You’d think we were talking about something more fundamental, like baby food or clean water.

But Nutella, most prosaically lathered on fat slices of bread as a snack, is a big deal. Books have been written on it, movies have been dedicated to it.

Worldwide, it is said to outsell peanut butter.

Nutella will likely overcome the current threat. After all, the blend of chocolate and hazelut, otherwise known as gianduja, was invented in 1949 on the heels of an economic crisis that set the price of chocolate too high.

So pastry maker Pietro Ferrero, whose family still owns the brand, “cut” it with hazelnuts and ecco! Nutella was born. The endangered concoction calls for about 13% hazelnut to 7% chocolate.

Who knows, we just may see a government subsidizing program, like they did for when bird flu wiped out the national chicken industry.

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