- Barry Callebaut will be expanding its La Morella Nuts line globally, with ingredients specially formulated for use in confections and plant-based products. Expansion is underway in Europe and the Asia Pacific region. The nuts will come to North America in 2021.
- La Morella Nuts is based in Reus, Spain, one of the main nut-growing areas in the country. The company, known for its expertise in the space, has opened a center of excellence to provide knowledge for using nuts in products.
- Barry Callebaut acquired La Morella Nuts in 2012 with the purpose of adding synergies to the chocolate ingredients leader's business. This is the brand's first formal extension into North American markets.
Almost nine years after Barry Callebaut purchased the company, many confectioners worldwide will get the opportunity to include the premium Spanish nuts in their products.
Nuts are a favorite chocolate addition, especially for consumers of premium and fine chocolates, according to the National Confectioners Association. Almond is ranked as the favorite addition and hazelnuts are the third most popular, with more than half of fine chocolate consumers ranking both as preferred flavorings. Many consumers also consider nuts to be healthy, since they bring "good fats," protein, minerals, vitamins and protein to dishes.
"What we see from La Morella, which is really great, is their innovation with food manufacturers, also some great brands bringing great products to consumers," Thomas Mulvihill, Barry Callebaut's vice president of marketing in North America, said at a virtual press conference announcing the expansion. "And this is all built on that foundation of Mediterranean nut craft. So the expertise in sourcing, the caramelization, the freshness, the new specialty roasting capabilities. We're really excited by this, and to learn from La Morella."
La Morella Nuts' products are made to be inclusions in high-end confectionery and bakery products. The company specializes in producing nut butters, roasted and candied nuts, and creating sweet fillings. Through the new center of excellence, the company has developed taste, texture and appearance standards to match different kinds of applications. These standards are similar to what Barry Callebaut developed for chocolate tasting.
At the virtual press conference, Barry Callebaut and La Morella leaders also said the nuts' popularity as an ingredient in plant-based foods makes this a good time for worldwide expansion. They touted the familiarity with nuts in these products as key to strengthening business and consumer opportunities for their premium offerings, which can also be used in products such as plant-based milks and desserts.
For consumers, the biggest drawback to nuts may be the large amounts of water needed to grow them. According to statistics reported by Mother Jones, it takes nearly a gallon of water to produce an almond, and nearly five gallons to produce a walnut.
Barry Callebaut and La Morella are working together to improve sustainability through Barry Callebaut's Forever Chocolate program, the companies said in a press release. La Morella has pledged to make all of its nuts come through sustainable sources by 2025. Pablo Perversi, Barry Callebaut's chief innovation, sustainability and quality officer and head of gourmet, said at the press conference they will be using processes like drip irrigation to try to reduce water use. He thought consumers would react positively to the sustainability measures and see La Morella Nuts as environmentally beneficial.
"Younger generations are looking more and more for what we call the triple play: things that are good for nature, things that are nutritionally good and things that have a great taste," Perversi said. "And La Morella Nuts plays in this triple play extremely well."