Global Hazelnut Trade: Producers, Exporters, and Importers

A cargo ship transporting hazelnuts

Hazelnuts, while often overlooked, hold a special place in the global nut industry. Beyond being a staple in many diets and cuisines worldwide, these nuts contribute significantly to economies around the globe. In 2021 alone, the global monetary value attributed to hazelnut exports reached an impressive US$2.4 billion. This represents a remarkable increase of 38.4% from 2017, demonstrating the growing economic clout of hazelnuts in the international trade ecosystem.

In this post, we’ll explore the economic dimensions of the global hazelnut trade. We will examine the intricacies of demand and consumption, identify the top producers, exporters, and importers, and probe into future trends in the hazelnut market. As we journey through these facets, we will gain an understanding of the ripple effects of this humble nut in the grand sea of global trade.

The Global Economic Impact of Hazelnut Production

The hazelnut industry significantly affects many sectors. From agriculture and food production to trade and commerce, the influence of this modest nut reaches far and wide, shaping markets and consumer behavior globally.

Hazelnuts in international trade

As a key component of international trade, hazelnuts contribute to billions of dollars in exports and imports annually. Countries like Turkey and Italy, which are among the largest producers, generate substantial revenue from the hazelnut trade. For example, Turkey accounts for around 70% of global hazelnut production, providing a significant source of foreign exchange earnings and contributing heavily to its national GDP.

The broad economic influence of hazelnuts

To fully understand the economic influence of hazelnuts, it’s essential to remember that hazelnut’s influence spans various sectors. Agriculture, the food and beverage industry, the cosmetics sector, and even the biofuel production sector depend on hazelnuts to some extent. 

Iconic brands like Ferrero have built global empires with hazelnuts as a key ingredient. This is a clear testament to the far-reaching economic impact of hazelnuts.

The Global Demand for Hazelnuts

Understanding the hazelnut market requires examining the forces driving global demand. Based on these factors, we can better understand the worldwide appeal of these nuts.

Influential factors driving global hazelnut demand

Several factors contribute to the demand for hazelnuts. Among them, two stand out as major contributors.

Food and beverage industry

The food and beverage industry plays a pivotal role in influencing hazelnut demand. There are so many products that use hazelnuts: they flavor coffees, form the base for spreads like Nutella, enhance baked goods, and even star as the main ingredient in luxury confectionery. Given this broad range of applications, it’s clear why this industry’s demand for hazelnuts is so significant.

Influence of global food trends

The effect of global food trends on hazelnut demand cannot be understated. The trend toward healthier eating, gourmet, and artisanal foods has provided a fertile ground for the increased use of hazelnuts. As consumers seek out nutrient-rich foods, hazelnuts, loaded with healthy fats, dietary fiber, and antioxidants, have become a go-to choice. 

Hazelnut pieces being sprinkled on gourmet food

The trend of incorporating unique flavors and ingredients into gourmet dishes has also paved the way for hazelnuts’ inclusion in novel culinary creations. As these trends continue, we can expect hazelnut demand to follow suit.

Top Hazelnut Producers and Exporters

In many industries, the leading producers are not always the top exporters. That is not the case in the hazelnut industry, where the major players dominate both production and export. To give you a clearer picture, in 2020, the top seven producing countries accounted for a staggering 95% of global hazelnut production. 

The production of hazelnuts is concentrated in a few regions around the world. These areas, privileged by favorable weather, rich soil, and strong farming traditions, play a crucial role in the global hazelnut industry.

Let’s examine the largest hazelnut markets in the world and their unique contributions to the export landscape. To make sure we are on the same page, the figures below encompass both in-shell and shelled hazelnuts. And the same applies to the rest of the article.

Turkey: The undisputed leader

Turkey stands unchallenged at the pinnacle of both hazelnut production and export. Dominating the world market, Turkey accounts for approximately 70% of total world hazelnut production and nearly 80% of global exports. This overwhelming supremacy is due to its favorable climate, fertile soils, and generations of skilled farmers.

Turkey’s role in the global hazelnut industry is further bolstered by its formidable processing infrastructure. Currently, the country has around 160 hazelnut shelling facilities. These factories have a combined processing potential of an astounding 1.27 million tons annually. 

Moreover, Turkey’s dominance of hazelnut exports is profoundly significant. To provide some context, in 2021, Turkey’s hazelnut exports amounted to a substantial $1.3 billion. 

Italy: A global player

While significantly trailing Turkey, Italy holds a solid second place in hazelnut production. The country’s hazelnut industry is primarily located in the Piedmont, Campania, Latium, and Sicily regions. Italian hazelnuts are highly regarded for their unique flavor profile.

Italy exported hazelnuts worth $352 million in 2021. This value represented a 14.6% share of global hazelnut exports. 

United States: Rising star in the west

Although the U.S. contributes a modest share to global hazelnut production, it’s showing steady growth, especially in the state of Oregon. The country is also increasing its stake in the international market, aiming to leverage its vast agricultural resources and advanced farming techniques.

In terms of exports, it made a considerable contribution to global trade, amounting to $144.9 million in 2021. This translates to about 6% of hazelnut exports worldwide.

Chile, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Emerging contributors

Chile, Azerbaijan, and Georgia are becoming more influential. Chile, with its ideal climate conditions, has been rapidly increasing its production. Azerbaijan and Georgia also benefit from their suitable environments for hazelnut cultivation. The proximity to European markets further enhances the competitiveness of these two nations. They may produce and export at a lesser volume than the leading nations, but their contributions to the global hazelnut supply are steadily increasing.

In 2021, these three countries collectively accounted for a considerable percentage of hazelnut exports. Chile led the trio with exports valued at $154 million, corresponding to 6.4% of the global total. Meanwhile, Georgia and Azerbaijan closely followed with their respective export values of $115.2 million and $111.8 million. This is equivalent to 4.8% and 4.7% of total hazelnut exports, respectively.

Who Imports the Most Hazelnuts?

As we’ve seen, hazelnut production is a specialized endeavor, concentrated in a handful of countries. But where do these hazelnuts end up after they leave the farms and processing facilities of these producer nations? Let’s turn our attention to the countries that import the most hazelnuts and their reasons for doing so.


Germany stands as the world’s largest importer of hazelnuts by a significant margin. Despite not being a major producer, Germany compensates with a robust import strategy. This country boasts a strong confectionery industry, with renowned companies like Mondelez and Ferrero having manufacturing plants in the country. 

Germany had an astonishing $585 million worth of imports in 2021. This accounted for over a quarter (26.7%) of total global hazelnut imports. 


A slice of bread with Nutella and a full jar on the background

Italy is another significant player in this market, ranking among the top importers. While Italy is also a major producer, its demand for hazelnuts far surpasses its domestic supply. The main reason for this is the presence of a vibrant food processing industry.

For instance, the renowned Italian company Ferrero, famous for its Nutella spread, demands enormous quantities of hazelnuts. This single company significantly contributes to Italy’s hazelnut import requirements.

Italy recorded imports valued at $425.1 million, making up 19.4% of total imported hazelnuts in 2021.


France also imports a considerable amount of hazelnuts for its food processing industry. French patisseries and chocolateries are well-known throughout the world. And many of these establishments use hazelnuts in their products.

A French baker preparing chocolate with hazelnuts

There is some production of hazelnuts in France, but the quantities are not sufficient to satisfy the demand from its food industry. That leads to its prominent place among hazelnut-importing countries.

With imports of $169.7 million, France constituted 7.7% of global hazelnut imports in 2021.


Canada is one of the leading importers of hazelnuts, mainly due to the lack of domestic production. Hazelnuts are used in a range of food products in Canada, from chocolates to baked goods and even in craft brewing. This demand has led Canada to source hazelnuts from international markets.

Canada’s hazelnut imports were also significant in 2021, totaling $120.7 million, or 5.5%. 


China has emerged as a significant force in the hazelnut import market. As one of the world’s largest consumer markets, China’s demand for hazelnuts is driven by both direct consumption and usage in its vast food and beverage industry. 

Although China cultivates hazelnuts domestically, it’s still far from meeting the enormous domestic demand. Therefore, this nation has to look for hazelnuts elsewhere.

China imported hazelnuts worth $83.6 million in 2021, making up 3.8% of global imports.

Who are the Major Hazelnut Consumers?

Looking at the importers of hazelnuts can provide a rough estimate of which countries consume the most hazelnuts worldwide. However, this doesn’t necessarily show us how prevalent hazelnuts are in the daily lives of the people in these countries.

To gain a more accurate picture, we turn to per capita consumption. In other words, it’s the average amount of hazelnuts each person consumes yearly. This measure helps us understand the true consumption patterns beyond mere total intake, which may be distorted by factors such as population size and industrial use. 

A closer look at the per capita consumption gives us a better idea of how hazelnuts play in different cultures and cuisines around the world

Per capita consumption in hazelnut producing countries

In countries that produce hazelnuts, consumption per person tends to be higher due to domestic availability and cultural culinary preferences. Let’s have a look at these countries:

Italy: On average, each Italian consumes around 0.520 kg of hazelnut kernels annually. This is hardly surprising, given Italy’s long-standing tradition of using hazelnuts in confectionery applications.

Greece: With a per capita consumption of approximately 0.369 kg of hazelnut kernels, Greece takes the second spot. Despite producing much less than Italy, the Greek palate holds a special place for hazelnuts.

Turkey: Turkey, being the world’s largest producer and exporter of hazelnuts, also features high on the list. The average Turkish citizen consumes about 0.250 kg of hazelnut kernels per year.

Per capita consumption in non-producing countries

Interestingly, some countries with the highest per capita consumption of hazelnuts are not significant producers. These nations usually have robust culinary traditions or industries that use hazelnuts as a key ingredient:

Switzerland: Leading the pack is Switzerland, where each person consumes an impressive average of 2.096 kg of hazelnut kernels annually. This is undoubtedly influenced by the country’s world-renowned chocolate industry, which relies heavily on hazelnuts.

Chocolate pieces of the Swiss brand Lindt

Lindt is an excellent example of the integral role of hazelnuts in Swiss chocolate craftsmanship. As one of the most popular brands in the country, Lindt incorporates hazelnuts into several of its beloved products.

Austria, Belgium, Germany, and Luxembourg: These countries follow Switzerland in terms of consumption per capita. Their citizens’ fondness for hazelnuts, especially in the form of chocolates and baked goods, drives their high consumption levels.

Hazelnut Prices in the world market

Various factors play into the price per ton of these tiny yet valuable commodities. 

Price differences between in-shell and shelled hazelnuts

The form in which hazelnuts are traded (in-shell versus shelled) directly impacts their price. This is primarily due to the labor and processing costs associated with shelling.

Average cost of in-shell hazelnuts

In 2021, the global average price for in-shell hazelnut imports was $3,901 per ton. This marked a 5.6% increase from the previous year, which averaged $3,695 per ton in 2020.

Average cost of shelled hazelnuts

On the other hand, shelled hazelnuts fetch a considerably higher price on the market due to the additional labor and processing required to remove the shell. In 2021, the average cost per ton of shelled hazelnuts was $7,315. This was, however, a slight dip of 1.9% from the $7,455 per ton average in 2020.

Other factors that affect pricing

Other factors also influence the export and import prices of hazelnuts. Some are obvious, such as the nuts’ quality, variety, and origin. But others may be more complex. Here are a few interesting ones.

Price Differences Between Countries

Hazelnut prices vary considerably between countries. Factors such as local production costs, demand, and market conditions can cause these variances. For instance, prices might be lower in countries with high hazelnut production due to the ample local supply.

Impact of environmental factors

Environmental factors such as unfavorable weather conditions, pests, or disease can significantly influence hazelnut prices. These can harm crops, leading to decreased supply and increased costs.

Political instability

Political instability in a producing country can also affect the cost of hazelnuts. When there’s uncertainty in the political landscape, it can disrupt the normal functioning of the hazelnut industry, from production to exportation. Whether it’s due to changes in trade policies, imposition of tariffs, or civil unrest leading to supply chain interruptions, such instabilities can lead to price fluctuations.

Future Trends and Predictions in the Hazelnut Market

Over the past few decades, the international hazelnut market has undergone many changes. Given the wide range of factors influencing this market, it’s evident that its future will be anything but static.

Predicted changes in consumer demand

The global demand for hazelnuts is expected to grow due to several factors. As consumer awareness around the health benefits of hazelnuts grows, more individuals are likely to incorporate this nutritious nut into their diets. Trends like plant-based eating and the increased interest in global cuisines, which often utilize hazelnuts, will also likely contribute to its rising demand.

Industry innovations will continue creating new avenues for hazelnut use, increasing their demand. As companies develop new products incorporating hazelnuts (from confectionery to dairy alternatives and beyond), their market presence will likely expand. 

Furthermore, advances in farming and the development of high-yielding, disease-resistant hazelnut varieties could also stimulate increased production.

The potential effects of global factors

In addition to shifts in consumer demand, global influences will also play a significant role in shaping the future of the hazelnut market.

The impact of climate change

Climate change presents a significant concern for the future of the hazelnut market. As weather patterns change, the stability of hazelnut harvests could face new challenges. 

Factors such as shifts in temperature, precipitation levels, and extreme weather events pose potential risks. These changes pose a significant challenge to producers, particularly those in regions that traditionally rely on stable climates for hazelnut cultivation. 

As such, we may need to develop new strategies in the future to ensure the viability of hazelnut production.

The Influence of Global Trade Regulations

Trade regulations and policies will also be influential in determining the future of the hazelnut market. The emergence of protectionist trade policies could impact the export and import dynamics of the hazelnut market. This could affect prices and availability in various markets. 


The global hazelnut market is dynamic. It has a clear impact on economies worldwide and contributes to various industries. Its complexities, from the intricacies of production and exportation to the factors driving demand, highlight its global significance.

Countries like Turkey and Italy have shown how much hazelnuts can contribute to GDP and foreign exchange earnings. Meanwhile, countries like Germany and France demonstrate how hazelnuts benefit their vibrant confectionery industries. It would be accurate to state that hazelnuts contribute to these countries’ economic and cultural needs.

In the grand tapestry of global trade, the humble hazelnut weaves a significant thread. As we move into the future, its role in shaping economies, feeding populations, and transforming industries will only increase.


  1. “Top Hazelnuts Exports & Imports by Country Plus Average Prices.” World’s Top Exports
  2. “Hazelnut Production.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  3. “Hazelnuts.” IUCN NL – International Union for Conservation of Nature Netherlands

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