The Nutella Affair

The Nutella Affair

Not since Louis XII seized Milan has there been such conflict between France and Italy. French Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal urged the public to stop eating Nutella, the chocolate hazelnut goo, to help prevent deforestation. Nutella is 20 percent palm oil, and palm plantations are often created by cutting down huge swaths of topical forests. Italy went into an uproar, since Nutella is made by Ferrero, the huge confectionery firm based outside Turin. Michele Anzaldi of the Camera dei Deputati was outraged by the grave e brutto slur against eccellenza italiana.

Italy was reinforced by unlikely allies, the environmental advocates of Greenpeace. Ferrero uses 100% certified sustainable, traceable palm oil. A flank attack was launched against Mlle. Royal from France by L’Alliance Française pour une Huile de Palme Durable.

Ségolène Royal made a tactical retreat via Twitter. “A thousand apologies for the controversy over #Nutella,” she tweeted, “Agreed, progress made should be recognized.”

The diplomatic damage, however, had been done, and Italians remain indignant. “If the French don’t want to eat Nutella, too bad for them,” huffed Italian Senator Roberto Calderoli, “They don’t know what they’re missing.”


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Image (“Still Life with Pewter Jug and Nutella, after Cezanne”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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