French government minister Segolene Royal has apologized after saying Nutella was harmful to the environment. As Hayley Platt reports her comment raised hackles in the industry and in Italy where the food spread is made.
It's been a firm favourite among foodies for generations. But the gooey hazelnut spread Nutella came close to causing a diplomatic dingdong over its use of palm oil. It's a popular ingredient in many products, and huge swathes of forest in Indonesia and Malaysia have to be cleared to grow it. French environment minister and former partner of President Holland, Segolene Royal says that's ruining the planet. And even suggested people should stop eating Nutella to help save the environment. But her comments didn't go down well with the industry or fans of the brand. (SOUNDBITE) (French) NUTELLA FAN, EVA BOUSTAOUI, SAYING: "Nutella is an institution. You can't cut out Nutella, cars - maybe we can make an effort with cars, but Nutella's chocolate not something that's going to ruin the environment." Segolene Royal has since apologised for her comments. Ferrero says only 20 percent of the spread is palm oil and they only buy it from sustainable sources. Justin Urquart-Stewart is from Seven Investment Management. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) SEVEN INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, MARKET ANALYST, JUSTIN URQUHART-STEWART, SAYING: "Of course it will have an impact, it's inevitable but attacking individual products like this does very little. It would be much better to look at what is happening to the development of palm oil and how you can make that more acceptable, in terms of not just the environment, not just globally but locally as well in terms of those economies." It's not the first time the Nutella brand has hit the headlines in France. In 2012 a bill dubbed the 'Nutella Tax' proposed quadrupling the tax on palm oil. It was eventually rejected. This time support for the brand stretched to the Italian prime minister's wife, Agnese Renzi who paid a trip to the Nutella bar at the Milan Expo world fair. Michelle Obama followed her to the fair, which focusses on food, nutrition and world hunger issues. The First Lady's views on healthy eating are well known - but she didn't get involved in Nutella debate.