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Business Leader of the Week: Meet Giovanni Ferrero, a secretive Nutella Billionaire

IFM_Giovanni Ferrero
As of October 2022, Giovanni Ferrero has an estimated net worth of USD 37.6 billion making him the 28th richest in the world

Ferrero International SA, a global confectionery company, is known for its delicious sweet treats and iconic brands. Founded in Italy in 1946 by Pietro Ferrero, the company has become a major player in the confectionery industry. Known for its commitment to quality and innovation, Ferrero has a diverse product portfolio that includes chocolate, hazelnut spreads and more.

One of Ferrero’s most famous creations is Nutella, a creamy hazelnut spread that has won the hearts of consumers worldwide. Nutella’s success embodies Ferrero’s ability to combine traditional craftsmanship with modern production techniques. The company’s commitment to using high quality ingredients, particularly hazelnuts, is a hallmark of its products.

Ferrero is also the brains behind the legendary Ferrero Rocher, a luxurious chocolate confection with a whole hazelnut at the core, encased in layers of hazelnut cream, a crispy wafer shell covered in milk chocolate and chopped hazelnuts. This treat has become synonymous with premium chocolate.

In addition to Nutella and Ferrero Rocher, the company owns several other popular brands including Kinder, Tic Tac, Mon Cheri and Rondnoir. The Kinder brand includes a range of products specifically tailored to children, including Kinder Eggs, Kinder Bueno and Kinder Joy.

Ferrero’s commitment to sustainability is evident through initiatives such as the Ferrero Farming Values program, which promotes the responsible sourcing of raw materials, particularly cocoa and hazelnuts. Additionally, the company actively invests in local communities and environmental conservation efforts.

With a global presence in more than 170 countries, Ferrero International continues to innovate and delight consumers with its delicious confections, emphasising the importance of quality, craftsmanship and sustainability in pursuit of sweet success.

After the death of Pietro Ferrero in 2011, his 59-year-old brother Giovanni Ferrero assumed the leadership of the company. He is an Italian businessman and writer by profession.

    Who Is Giovanni Ferrero?

  • Giovanni Ferrero was born and brought up in Farigliano, Italy, and he is also the son of Maria Franca Fissolo and Michele Ferrero
  • He moved to Brussels, Belgium, where he studied at the European Schools in 1975, and then moved to the United States, where he studied marketing at Lebanon Valley College
  • After completing his studies, Giovanni Ferrero returned to Europe to work in the family company
  • In 1997 Giovanni Ferrero became joint CEO of Ferrero together with his brother Pietro
  • In 2011, after the death of his brother in a bicycling accident in South Africa, he became the sole CEO of Ferrero Group, while his father, Michele Ferrero, remained as executive chairman
  • Under the leadership of Giovanni Ferrero, the Ferrero Group has expanded its presence worldwide and become one of the world’s leading confectionery companies
  • Giovanni Ferrero values sustainability and responsible business practises and works to make the company’s supply chain more sustainable and reduce its impact on the environment
  • Despite his wealth and leadership position, Giovanni Ferrero maintains a private and low-profile lifestyle and rarely appears in the media or at public events
  • Giovanni Ferrero is known for its philanthropic efforts, including donations to charities and foundations focused on education, health and social development
  • As of October 2022, Giovanni Ferrero has an estimated net worth of USD 37.6 billion making him the 28th richest in the world, and the richest person in Italy

Nutty Idea

The story of how Ferrero, or more specifically Nutella, conquered the world began immediately after World War II. To compensate for the lack of cocoa, the pastry chef came up with the idea of adding hazelnuts to the mixture, an ingredient abundant in the Italian peninsula.

Legend has it that a pivotal moment in the success of the chocolate product known as Gianduja (a word meaning chocolate and ground hazelnuts in English) was a particularly hot post-war summer in Piedmont, when the chocolate and nut mixture in it melted heat. The result was a stickier product that the company, somewhat at first glance, initially called Supercrema, which has been known to the world since 1964 as Nutella.

The new preparation was immediately well received, especially by the children of Ferrero factory workers, which gave Michele Ferrero and his wife Maria Franca the impetus to expand beyond Italy’s borders in the late 1950s, with France welcoming Ferrero with open arms.

A Sense Of Commitment

“Ferrero has been built by generations of people who share (a sense of) commitment. Commitment that translates to the pursuit of our business objectives without losing sight of our guiding principles,” declares Giovanni Ferrero on his company’s website. Expressing his ambitions for the family business, Giovanni clearly aims to bridge tradition and modernity.

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