Chocolate-Hazelnut Spreads

Name Nocciolata Barefoot & Chocolate Justin's
Price (Amazon) $13.00 $16 for two-pack $15.90
Price per oz $1.26 $0.81 $0.98
ENV Raw Mats Organic farming for cane sugar, hazelnut paste, sunflower oil, cocoa powder, cocoa butter Organic sugar, hazelnuts, cocoa powder, skim milk powder, palm fruit oil, Hazelnuts, almonds, palm fruit oil, organic cocoa
ENV Certifications USDA Organic Non-GMO project Rainforest Alliance Certified Cocoa, RSPO
ENV Disposal & Waste Organic farming, No GMOs or palm oil, Sustainable palm oil, No GMO BPA free jars, recycled cartons and jars, sustainable palm oil, No GMOs or VOC
LABOR Who? Dark chocolate from Antillean Islands Unknown Domestically sourced nuts from Georgia, Oregon and California. Located in Boulder, Colorado, workers commute through biking and walking.
LABOR: Pay Scale Unknown Unknown $31,792-$48,687 per year (employees)
Labor: Certifications None FairTrade USA None
Certifications None None None
R&D Unknown Unknown Unknown
Charity None None Conscious Alliance, Whole Planet Foundation, Thorne Nature
Partners None None eTown, Conscious Alliance,
LABOR: Special Interest Unknown Unknown Unknown

       Chocolate-hazelnut spreads have become a favorite in America, whether it's spread on toast, cookies, crackers, and fruit, or eaten straight from the jar. These spreads are the perfect accompaniment for studying late at night or coming back home from a long day at work. While there's a lot of brands to choose from, not all of them are always made with organic ingredients or fair labor practices. So how do you pick the most ethically-made spreads as a conscious consumer? We took the guesswork out of the process for you and tried three fair trade chocolate-hazelnut spread brands that you can try the next time you're at the grocery store. They're healthier for your body, but still have that delicious chocolate-hazelnut taste we've come to know and love.

Current Trend & Status Quo

     The chocolate industry relies heavily on cocoa bean plantations to produce profit gains, picked from locations across South America and parts of Africa. Within these regions, trafficking children has become a common form of cocoa production, paying them low wages for long hours of work. Most chocolate industries have attempted to mitigate this but have not completely eliminated it within their chocolate production. In addition, most chocolate industries neglect care in sourcing sustainable ingredients, using palm oil, artificial coloring, and GMOs, all having harmful effects for people and the environment. Over time, ingredients like palm oil will be a scarce material to extract, and our environment will not be able to offer the same amount of ingredients that the chocolate industry is heavily reliant upon. 

Major Players

  • Nutella: Owned by the Ferraro Group, the company has 22 operating manufacturing plants with distributors in over 160 countries. As of 2015, the company made 10.15 billion dollars in revenue, a 13.4% increase from 2014, with growth achieved in Asia, Middle East, United States, Canada, Mexico, and Australia.
  • Hershey’s: In 2014, Hershey’s introduced a line of chocolate spreads to compete with Nutella, including a chocolate-hazelnut spread. Their revenue was 7.39 billion dollars in 2015.
  • Jif: In 2012, J.M. Smucker Company introduced Jif hazelnut spreads, but they are still best known for their peanut butter.

Important Variables

  • USDA Organic: A certification to indicate that the product was produced without pesticides, hormones, and other modern genetic techniques.
  • GMOs: GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, can have negative effects on the environment and human health. Major concerns include production of new allergens, increased toxicity, decreased nutrition, and antibiotic resistance.
  • Rainforest Alliance Certified Cocoa: This certification supports smallholder cocoa farmers by training them to conserve natural resources, increase productivity, and secure decent living and working conditions.
  • Sustainably Sourced Palm Oil: Use of palm oil links to issues such as deforestation, habitat degradation, climate change, animal cruelty, and indigenous rights abuses in the countries where it is produced. Sustainably sourcing the palm oil ensures that it is being retrieved in a sustainable matter under the mass supply chain.

Why I Chose These Companies

  • Nocciolata: Nocciolata is USDA Organic and does not contain palm oil, GMOs, or artificial flavors and colors with a sugar content of 18g per serving. The taste is similar to milk chocolate with a slight hazelnut aftertaste, and its texture is softer than Nutella. It’s not as sticky, so if you hate getting it stuck on the roof of your mouth, Nocciolata is probably the one for you.  
  • Barefoot & Chocolate: This spread was most similar to Nutella in texture and taste. They use organic and fair trade ingredients, are free of GMOs, and use sustainable palm oil. 
  • Justin’s: Justin’s products use domestically sourced nuts, sustainably sourced palm oil, Rainforest Alliance-certified cocoa, and does not include GMOs. Justin’s also use almonds in addition to hazelnut and chocolate, and it's texture is thick like peanut butter. The almonds have an overpowering taste, and there’s a faint bitter dark chocolate aftertaste. If you want to try something new that is less sweet than other chocolate-hazelnut spreads with a thicker texture, this is perfect!  

Written by Jade Gleason