By Connor Lynch
When it comes to hazelnuts, Ontario’s a small-potatoes kind of place. The biggest opportunities are small-scale as well.
When Italian confectionery giant, Ferrero, announced in 2016 it wanted another 23,000 acres of hazelnuts in Ontario by 2023, it was huge news for the industry. Ontario had only between 300 and 400 acres of hazelnuts.
Production worldwide is dominated by Turkey and scaling up in Ontario is a difficult process. Research is ongoing on varieties that can resist a blight that afflicts plants. Planting costs can be between $5,000 and $6,000 an acre, not counting machinery, and an orchard won’t hit full production for a decade.
Consequently, the best value for money for growers, says a report by Toronto-based agri-food consultants Hart & Associates, is small scale.
Hart & Associates recommend selling small scale to farmers markets and specialized retailers. Selling to distributors can gross about $4.50 per lb.