"Tartine de Nutella"—Breakfast for France? Photo: A. Kniesel / Wikimedia
While most observers of international relations have been focused on the issue of Greece, and whether it will remain in the Eurozone, a war of words has broken out between France and Italy over a favorite chocolate-hazelnut spread.
Fortunately for all, a peaceful solution has now been found.
Hostilities broke out last Monday, June 15, when Segolene Royale, French Ecology Minister, urged the French to stop eating Nutella in a TV interview. She pointed out that one of the prime ingredients in the Italian spread is palm oil, ingredient attacked by some nutritionists for health reasons.
But her complaint was that "we have to replant masses of trees because there's been a massive deforestation, which also leads to climate change." When the host said "But it tastes good!" she said that the French should try something else. "For example, we have to stop eating Nutella because of its palm oil, which is seeing trees getting replaced and causing considerable damage."
France eats about 100 million jars of Nutella a year, and only Germans eat more of it. Nutella is so big that Michele Ferrero, the inventor of the spread and owner of the company, who died in February, was the richest individual in Italy. Ferrero's company produces over 400,000 tons of the stuff every year.
Since Nutella is a pillar of the Italian economy, the Italian government was quick to respond: Italian Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti tweeted that Royal should "leave Italian products alone," and that he would be eating "bread and Nutella for dinner tonight."
By Wednesday, the pressure for a peaceful settlement had grown, and Royal folded her flag, She said that she had only meant to raise the issue of the process of making Nutella and offered "a thousand apologies."