Italy is the second producer of hazelnuts in the world and produces about 12% of the global harvest. However, what is more characteristic of the Italian production is not its quantity as much as its quality. Here are the three major varieties:
Giffoni hazelnut PGI – Perfectly round once shelled, white pulp, and aromatic flavor, these are the characteristics that distinguish the Giffoni, which is perfect for the roasting process and can be easily peeled. These characteristics make it particularly attractive for the production of sweets and industrial processes. This hazelnut is also characterized by its high content of vitamins E, B, C, as well as minerals such as iron, copper, zinc, phosphorus, sodium, and magnesium and selenium.
Langhe Trilobata hazelnut – Also known as the ‘Piedmont round and gentle’, it is one of the best-known varieties. Its production is concentrated in the provinces of Cuneo, Asti, and Alessandria, among the hills of the Langhe, Roero, and Monferrato. It has a particularly pleasant aroma, especially when toasted, a delicate flavor, and reduced fat content. It is the one used to produce the gianduja chocolate.
Roman hazelnut PDO – Almost perfectly spherical, with a compact and crunchy texture, as well as a very fine and persistent flavor and aroma, this variety has been produced in the provinces of Viterbo and Rome since before the 1500s. It can be used whole or chopped and it is suitable for the preparation of cakes, biscuits, ice creams, creams, and even liqueurs.
Different Italian hazelnuts offer specific flavors and texture that give a unique touch to endless recipes, especially for desserts. Hazelnuts have always represented one of the main ingredients for Loacker when producing its wafers. Hence the birth of the long-term ‘Tuscan Hazelnuts’ project launched by Loacker in 2011. Around 100.000 (2019) hazels were planted in Loacker’s agriculture business.
The Loacker hazelnuts grown in Tuscany belong to all the Italian cultivars, including the Tonda Gentile Romana, Tonda Gentile Trilobata and Tonda di Giffoni, as well as the cultivar Camponica and the Tonda Francescana (a new cultivar breeded by the University of Perugia), which are the most valuable in the whole world considering their organoleptic properties.
Loacker wanted to implement this vertical shift in the supply chain to guarantee the complete traceability of the product, from the moment it’s planted until it reaches the final consumer.
Moreover Loacker has started collaborations with local farmers in different Italian regions, who cultivate the most valuable Italian hazelnut cultivars and get offered by Loacker a long term Sales contract.