A PROJECT worth $70 million in the Riverina is growing the nuts used in popular Ferrero chocolates.
The diverse horticultural operation at Sandigo near Narrandera in southern NSW is run by Agri Australis, a company which is owned by Ferrero Australia.
Last month the southern NSW plantings neared completion with the final phase marking a total of almost one million hazelnut trees in the region.
Agri Australis general manager, Claudio Cavallini, said the region was well suited to nut growing and the crop would help to further diversify horticulture and agricultural production.
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He said the company was committed to jobs in the region and to employing local people.
About five years of work have gone into the planting venture at Sandigo.
“The farm will illustrate the potential of sustainability and profitability of the hazelnut business, in general, in Australia,” he said.
At the moment Australia produces around 170 tonnes of hazelnuts.
By 2022, Ferrero forecast a yield from its demonstration farm alone of about 5000 tonnes in-shell.
A recent day was set aside to provide an opportunity for members of the company to have a ceremony which involved planting the last trees.
Mr Cavallini said it allowed the company to demonstrate the operation to the farming community too.
Before the planting, 12mm of rain had fallen in the region and more was forecast for the following day.
It was anticipated the first harvest would begin after 2018 and full production was tipped to occur in 2022 once the trees reached maturity.
Ferrero is the world’s third-biggest chocolate business.
And while best known for the Ferrero Rocher chocolates it also makes Nutella. The Australian operation marks a significant opportunity for further plantings of hazelnuts to expand on growing enterprises in Germany, Brazil, Italy, China, Poland and India.
- This story first appeared on The Daily Advertiser.