Ontario’s hazelnut industry is deepening its roots in Ontario, thanks to the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.
The Ontario Hazelnut Association (OHA) secured funding for an administrative co-ordinator, its first paid staff position, through the Partnership, a Monday Agricultural Adaptation Council release said. The coordinator will support the organization’s operations and activities, encourage membership and sponsorship, and develop educational resources about hazelnut production, processing and marketing.
To date, the OHA has depended on volunteers.
“There are currently no paid positions, and all the board members volunteer their time,” Eric Beriault, chair of the OHA, told Farms.com today. “Adding a paid position allows us to work towards the goals of the industry a lot quicker.
“As a board, we represent our members, and we have established a number of initiatives that we want to move forward with. Having someone working full time, coordinating the different committees, will allow us to accomplish our goals,” he said.
Estimates peg the demand for hazelnuts to be over 45,000 acres. This demand could generate over $300 million annually in sales and could contribute to an economic impact exceeding $1 billion.
Ferrero Inc.’s plant opening in Brantford over a decade ago introduced the industry to the province. The plant announced its interest in using local hazelnuts in its Nutella spread and Ferrero Rocher chocolates, launching the development of best management practices and cultivars resistant to Eastern Filbert Blight in Ontario.
“Presently, the vast majority of the hazelnuts that are consumed and processed in Ontario are imported. Our long-term goal is to replace the import market with local product,” said Beriault.