Yarraville's Alfa Bakehouse opened a second cafe and kitchen in Seddon thanks in part to demand for its Nutella doughnuts. Photo: Jessica Gallagher
Nutella may have been available in Australia for 37 years but a new hunger for marrying the chocolate-hazelnut spread with doughnuts, coffee and ice-cream has invigorated sales to the point that wholesale supplies have dried up.
Melbourne bakers are being forced to use smaller, more expensive jars aimed at households for their baked goods.
The jam, the Nutella and the custard doughnuts at Jimmy's Place, Fawkner. Photo: Pat Scala
Ferrero Australia has confirmed that commercial-size three-kilogram plastic tubs of Nutella are out of stock, with a new shipment from Italy not due until August 7.
Two milk bars in Melbourne's northern suburbs are believed to have helped spark the city's most recent Nutella obsession with their chocolate-hazelnut filled doughnuts.
Mick's Place in Thomastown and Jimmy's Place in Fawkner have more Facebook fans than most people can dream of, thanks in large part to their custom-made treats.
Piccolo Me's fried ice-cream "Maltella" is one of several items on the menu featuring Nutella. Photo: Supplied
Zena Samia, of Jimmy's Place, says she may soon have to rely on the more old-school jam and custard-filled doughnuts and hopes customers remain loyal until the Nutella drought breaks.
Rukshan De Silva, manager of wholesale supplier Campbell's Cash and Carry in Preston, Melbourne, said he was desperate for the new shipment of Nutella to arrive after selling out of both three-kilogram tubs and one-kilogram jars in recent weeks. "But [Ferrero] have already told me I can only have 10 pallets of Nutella from the next shipment… I think they were really caught off guard by this [doughnut] craze."
De Silva's store supplies the Reservoir bakery that makes the hit "Donutella" doughnuts sold at Mick's Place, which has racked up 17,000 Facebook likes in recent months.
De Silva says the Mick's Place baker had been buying 500-1000 kilograms of Nutella from Campbell's Cash and Carry each week, but he added such demand was no longer unique. "If I look at the last 10-week period we sold 40-50 pallets of Nutella [or 21,600-27,000 kilograms] … A few months ago we were selling about five pallets [2700 kilograms] over a 10-week period.
"I have never seen anything like this doughnut fad. The only thing that maybe comes close is when Cadbury released the Boost bar years ago."
Nutella-themed desserts and baked goods are growing in popularity in Sydney – although the doughnut fad has made way for the likes of Nutella cronuts, scrolls, frappes, arancini and macarons. One of the city's biggest fans is Charlie Hachem, who runs the Piccolo Me cafe chain with his brother Roy. Hachem says each of Piccolo Me's nine (soon to be 10) Sydney cafes can go through five to six kilograms a week, with the spread featuring in "all of our desserts".
"Probably the most popular is the Nutella fried ice-cream, or our 'Maltella'," Hachem said, adding Piccolo Me is considering branching down to Melbourne later this year.
Hachem's supplier had not informed him of a looming Nutella shortage: "But we have a lot stockpiled – both three-kilogram and one-kilogram jars," he said.
George Xanthis, of Alfa Bakehouse and Cafe in Melbourne's Yarraville, said the success of his new Nutella products had forced a relocation of his catering business to new, larger premises in Seddon.
"We're using 75-80 kilograms each week," Xanthis says. "A lot of that is office workers ordering in Nutella doughnuts for meetings… After the stories [about the Milk Bar doughnuts] people started asking for them. Before that we just made jam and custard doughnuts. Now people want Nutella in croissants and in everything. We are selling 500 mini-Nutella doughnuts every Saturday and Sunday in our cafe."
Xanthis is desperate for new supplies of Nutella. "We can't get any," he said. "I've called so many suppliers. We sourced a different hazelnut spread from Elenka but now we can't get that product either.
"I'm just telling all our customers there's no Nutella in the country and we're trying to push our other products."
Those addicted to Nutella doughnuts may soon find their habit costing them more, with Ferrero recently passing on increased supply costs to Australian buyers. Xanthis says some suppliers are charging $30 for a three-kilogram tub of Nutella, up from about $20 a couple of months ago.
Correction: The original version of this story listed an incorrect calculation for 40-50 pallets of Nutella. This has been fixed in the above story.