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Nutella recipe won't change, despite proposed palm oil tax rise

AFP/Johanna Leguerre

Nutella’s recipe will not change, despite a threat of a tax hike on products using palm oil in France. Ferrero, the Italian company that makes the popular hazelnut spread, says it will not drop the controversial product if the measure is agreed.  


The increase, which has been endorsed by the French Senate but has yet to be passed into law, has been dubbed the Nutella Tax.

Parliamentary elections 2012

It would raise taxes on palm oil products by 300 per cent, which would add 30 centimes to the cost of a giant five-kilogramme pot of the popular spread, six centimes for the size most commonly sold to individual consumers.

Nutella, which is one of the favourite breakfast spreads of French children, is 20 per cent palm oil.

France is the largest market for the product, consuming 100 million jars a year – a significant contribution to the average French person’s annual consumption of two kilogrammes of palm oil.

The tax hike could bring in 40 million euros to the French exchequer, which is struggling to reduce the budget deficit.

The amendment’s supporters point to health risks from consumption of the oil, which is high in saturated fats and is blamed for contributing to France's growing obesity problem.

There is also an environmental argument.

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Palm oil has also led to massive deforestation in Malaysia and Indonesia, although Ferrero says it aims to be using 100 per cent eco-friendly oil by 2015.

“The repercussions are catastrophic while the arguments are unfair,” Ferrero’s boss in France, Frédéric Thil declared Saturday, adding that the company will not be changing its recipe, whatever happens.

Thil points out that butter and cream are as bad for health as palm oil.

The oil is also used in margarines, processed foods and cosmetics and 130,000 tonnes are used every year in France.

The amendment is not certain to be passed.

Social Affairs Minister Marisol Touraine on Thursday said that she was not sure that a “purely financial measure” was the best way to address the debate on the effects of palm oil on health.

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