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The Importance of Innovation in Your Family Business - The Nutella Story.


It’s not possible for your family business to solely survive by persistently doing what you’ve always been doing - simply because it has worked in the past. One way to boost your longevity chances is to practise innovation.

What follows is a fantastic example of how innovation not only ensured long-term success for one family business, but created a global phenomenon along the way.

The Nutella Example

We recently did a series of Facebook posts about five family businesses we would love to work for but somehow we missed highlighting the Ferrero family group.

Aside from producing a range of delectable chocolates, this 3rd generation family business is also responsible for creating Nutella, the hazelnut spread that has taken over the world. If you aren’t sold on that claim, perhaps the recent violent supermarket riot in France when it was put on sale will change your mind!

The stats also back this up:

  • A jar of Nutella is sold every 2.5 seconds globally
  • Ferrero produces enough Nutella annually to create a smear of the spread circling the world 1.4 times
  • In 2017, people ate 365,000 tonnes of Nutella in over 160 countries

But Nutella wasn’t actually planned – it was a fortuitous accident. Its story began in 1951 when pastry maker Pietro Ferrero created a sweet paste made from hazelnuts, sugar and a smidge of cocoa (a rarity due to the war). Then in 1963, son Michele took over the reins of the family business. By applying some innovative thinking – plus a good amount of experimentation – he tweaked the recipe by adding vegetable oil and created Nutella as we know it today.

The Ferrero family are currently the fourth largest chocolate makers in the world. Before his death in 2015, Michele was the richest man in Italy and the 20th richest in the world. His son Giovanni continues his legacy today with a strong focus on social responsibility initiatives such as sustainable farming practices, the protection of the environment and the support of active lifestyles.

Learnings from the Ferrero family

The Ferrero’s clearly show what part innovative can play in ensuring your family business continues well into the future. But if you’re stuck on how to practically apply it, contact us for advice. 

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