Using Turkish Hazelnuts Adds Value to Products

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According to historical records, hazelnuts were being produced along the southern shores of the Black Sea in today’s Turkey as far back as 2300 years ago and Turkey has been exporting these nuts to other countries for the past 600 years. Image
Turkey is one of the handful of countries in the world that has all of the climatic conditions amenable to the raising of hazelnuts. It also produces and exports approximately 75% of world hazelnut consumption.  It is thanks to the high quality of Turkish hazelnuts that this product is so popular and so sought after.
Turkey has an annual 250,000 ton export of  shelled hazelnuts with 80-85% of these products going directly to the EU.  Europe has a broad use for these hazelnuts, adding them to chocolate products, confectionaries, pastries and ice-cream. In addition to this, thanks to the efforts of the Hazelnut Promotion Group in markets that it has been targeting, the use of hazelnuts is also growing in other markets outside of Europe.

Currently, Turkey exports about 7000 tons of hazelnuts annually to the US, but it is also noted that, even though North America also produces hazelnuts, the consumption of hazelnuts has not yet reached targeted levels in America.  This is also despite the fact that consumer surveys carried out in the US have demonstrated that US consumers are interested in hazelnuts. A total of 70% of the consumers surveyed said that they believed that hazelnuts were beneficial to health, 40% reported that they snacked on hazelnuts once a week, 33% said they consumed hazelnuts weekly as additives to other foods, and 86% reported that they liked the taste of hazelnuts.

Spurred on by the positive results of the consumer surveys, advertising and promotional campaigns were launched in the USA and these activities continued throughout 2007 and 2008. These activities were carried out with a three-pronged strategy approach: marketing strategies directed towards the food industry and marketing and nutritional marketing strategies directed towards consumers.   

THE FOOD INDUSTRY MARKETING STRATEGY
The Hazelnut Promotion Group, with its “Consumer Research Program” is showing the marketing people that the hazelnut is suited to the tastes of the American consumer. They are working on breaking down the misconception that the hazelnut is not widely accepted in the American food sector. The Hazelnut Promotion Group tries to encourage the American food companies to create new products with hazelnuts by providing special information regarding the hazelnut. The Promotion Group has signed off on a wide-ranging market research project, aiming to gain a database that would prove that American consumers like hazelnuts. A research project was set up in order to create an industry profile and to increase hazelnut consumption. The data collected from the two research projects were printed in a brochure.

Within the framework of food company meeting tactics, to give messages of hazelnut use to companies that produce chocolate and bakery products, and in order to raise the awareness of the hazelnut in the American market, as well as the success of hazelnut products, the group has held meetings with leading firms in the food sector. In partnership with leading companies that use hazelnuts, ads were made and printed in the leading magazines of the sector.

Within the framework of Commercial Media, commercial work was executed with the largest firms in the food sector, along with various advertisements about the hazelnut, recipes and articles were published in the following commercial magazines, which have very high circulations, reaching over 2 million readers: New Products Magazine, Baking Buyer, Food Management, Snack Food Wholesale Bakery, Candy Industry, and Manufacturing Confectioner.

Within the framework of such important Commercial Trade Shows in the food sector as the Philadelphia Candy Show, Fancy Food Show, Retail Confectioners International 84th Annual Convention, All Candy Expo, Institute Of Food Technologies, International Baking Industry Exposition, International Foodservice Editorial Council, Food & Culinary Professionals, International Association Of Culinary Professionals, Research Chef Association Annual Conference, Pennsylvania Manufacturing Confectioners Association and Copia Chef, the interest in the hazelnut was stirred through conferences and various activities.
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The Hazelnut Council, which was created in 1997, has been serving ever since in order to provide resources to food sector professionals, with their formal website that provides up to date statistics regarding worldwide hazelnut production, hazelnut production in Turkey and Oregon, supply and demand data, technique brochures, supply database and recipes using hazelnuts, and additionally an online sample order form for industry purposes.
 
The Hazelnut Council publishes an e-newspaper called Nuttrends as part of a food products e-newspaper framework, which publishes information on matters such as new trends in the food industry, hazelnut research, new hazelnut product news, consumer statistics and news on hazelnut use.
 
Within the framework of partnership, working with important and leading companies in the food sector, and getting consumers to try hazelnuts or products containing hazelnuts, two presentations were held in the winter and the summer with the Au Bon Pain company, which holds 230 businesses in the United States and Asia. In the winter presentation, the “Hazelnut Fudge Cookie” and “Hazelnut Cream Pastry” products, and in the summer presentation the “Hazelnut Monkey Bread”, “Hazelnut Salad Dressing” and a new product Au Bon Pain product, hazelnut iced coffee, were introduced in 43 cafes in the New York City, Chicago, Boston, and Washington D.C. markets. Throughout the presentations positive feedback was received from consumers through the use of comment cards.

CONSUMER MARKETING STRATEGY
Within this strategy, in order to raise the awareness that already exists in Europe that the hazelnut is a perfect complement to chocolate, articles and hazelnut recipes were published in newspapers. Additionally, a series of recipe cards were printed in order to reach the consumer population. As long as companies continued to use hazelnuts, they were supported in creating new products and their demands for hazelnut samples from the Council were met through trade shows, firm meetings, and through correspondence and the website.

Eight  hazelnut recipes were e-mailed to editors in order to suggest new ideas for use of the hazelnut. Partnerships were formed with 25 important bloggers who write personal blogs and through the use of the media over 275 million consumers were reached with new ideas and messages regarding hazelnuts, nuts, health/fitness, chocolate/candy and general nutritional information. The recipes were based on 4 different subjects; hazelnuts (story of, sector, properties), healthy lifestyles, superfoods and general knowledge.

Within the framework of Spokesperson Promotions, in order to introduce the hazelnut with a famous face, a media blitz was realized with chef Curtis Stone in New York, in which he talked about the benefits of cooking with hazelnuts. A clip was broadcast on Health Home Report and Direct TV about cooking with hazelnuts. The conversations with various editors regarding the hazelnut was published in Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, Elle, Fitness, Women’s Health, Quick and Simple and Prevention magazines, publications with a combined circulation of 16 million, reaching more than 40 million readers. Additionally, the editors of the best consumer magazines did 14 radio spots regarding the use of hazelnuts in home cooking and reached 9 million listeners. Recipes and research news were sent to Women’s Health and Elle magazines.

NUTRITIONAL MARKETING STRATEGY
Within this particular strategy a database was created on the benefits of the hazelnut on health. Scientific research is being done on the health benefits of the hazelnut and of the phenolic content within the membrane of the hazelnut in order to increase the interest of consumers in the use of the hazelnut and to increase the interest of the industries, which could use the hazelnut in their products. Participation in the American Dietetic Association Show (ADA) in order to reach nutrition and health experts to help spread the word of the health benefits of the hazelnut was executed.
 
THE HAZELNUT PROMOTION GROUP
The Hazelnut Promotion Group started its activities in the untied States in 1997. Since 2002 the Hazelnut Promotion Group has been working with public relations and promotion firms to identify the place and the importance of the hazelnut in the American market through various sets of research and surveys.
The Hazelnut Promotion Group carried out a consumer survey among the food sector regulators in order to “show that the hazelnut is suited to the tastes of the American consumer” and worked with focus groups in order to identify consumer trends. Special presentation kits were prepared for meetings held with firms. A media tour was done regarding the benefits of using the hazelnut. Advertisements were placed in food sector magazines and fairs were attended.

In the Hazelnut Council website; there are news items regarding the hazelnut in the e-newspaper “Nuttrend”, and  recipe cards were prepared, aimed at the consumer. The Hazelnut Promotion Group won the “Perfection” award in the United States from the International Association of Business Communicators.  The Hazelnut Council, which executes advertisement and presentations for the Hazelnut Promotion Group, won an award with its project "Hazelnuts: Creating a Compelling Food Trend”.

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