With Its Formula Change, Nutella Is Not Bringing 'More Happiness to the World'

Nutella in new jars may not have as deep of a chocolate brown hue as the older formulation of the hazelnut spread. (Photo: Alexander Prokopenko/ Shutterstock)

"With Nutella, we spread positive energy to families to bring more happiness to the world."

That's the statement in quotes at the top of Nutella's About Us page. I'm not sure exactly what that statement means, but I do know that a recent change in Nutella's formula — a "fine-tuning" as the company is calling it — is not bringing happiness to many of the world's Nutella lovers.

The ingredients have stayed the same, but the amounts of some have changed. Nutella now contains 8.7 percent powdered skimmed milk when it previously had only 7.5 percent. It also contains more sugar, going from 55.9 percent to 56.3 percent, according to The Washington Post.

The color also has gotten lighter, and this Facebook post from consumer group Verbraucherzentrale Hamburg was the first to alert consumers about it.

You can see that the Nutella on the left made from the new formula is lighter in color than the old-formula Nutella on the right. The lighter color has people upset, as does the fact that when something gets added to a product often something else is taken away. The percentage of hazelnuts and cocoa don't have to be listed on the label, so it's unclear if they have been changed. However, some are wondering if the amount of those ingredients have been reduced to make room for the added powdered milk and sugar, which are less expensive than hazelnuts and cocoa.

I wonder why Ferraro, the Luxembourg-based, family-owned company that makes Nutella, chose to add more sugar to a product that already has a significant amount of sugar — so much so that in the United States Nutella is classified as a dessert topping, not a spread, the classification for foods like honey, jam or fruit butter. Last year, Nutella asked the FDA to reclassify it as a spread, and the agency asked for public comments on the request. It doesn't look as if any determination has yet been officially made, and it seems to me that adding more sugar to the product would lessen the chances of losing the dessert topping classification.

Nutella lovers are calling the formula switch #NutellaGate, and some are saying it's the equivalent of New Coke. That's a bit dramatic, and I wonder how many people have actually opened a jar of the "fine-tuned" Nutella and didn't realize anything was different until social media told them about it.

Regardless of whether you're upset about the changes or not, Nutella — as yummy as it is — is best eaten sparingly. A two-teaspoon serving contains about 21 grams of sugar, and that's close to the recommended daily amount for women. The American Heart Association recommends women have no more than 25 grams of added sugar a day, and men have no more than 35 grams. In my opinion, Nutella should be thought of as candy, not as a breakfast ingredient to regularly spread on toast and waffles or slathered on fresh fruit like the company's commercials suggest.