'Nutella' makes Widow the Richest Woman in Italy

Mar 05, 2016 10:34 PM EST | By Josine Macaspac (media@latinospost.com)

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Forbes' recently released its list of the world's top billionaires. Coming in at a number 30, with a staggering net worth of $22.2 Billion is Maria Franca Fissolo, widow of chocolatier Michele Ferrero. She is the world's 4th richest woman and the wealthiest person in all of Italy. We're all familiar with the Ferrero family name. The Ferrero Group is the source of some of the most famous and delicious sweets available on the market. Whether it is the luscious chocolate hazelnut spread we all know as Nutella, or the sphere of hazelnut-centered chocolate goodness Ferrero Rocher, and other members of their product line such as Kinder and Tic Tac's, we've probably encountered one of their products at some point in our lives. Forbes has noted that one major source of their wealth comes from Nutella. Nutella makes up one-fifth of the company's total revenues.

For such unimaginable wealth, the chocolate empire we know of today began as a modest family business during World War II. Maria's in-laws began the business as pastry shop in Alba, a town in Piedmont Italy. Pietro, Maria's father-in-law, set up a lab to supply his wife's pastry shop. Because of the war, cocoa was being rationed. To extend their chocolate, Pietro used hazelnut's which was bountiful in the region. The outcome of such mixture is what we eventually came to know as Nutella.

After World War II the Ferrero family opened production sites and offices abroad. The family company became and international group and the products that they produced were "invented" by Pietro and his son Michele. When Pietro passed away, the company was left in the hands of his brother. Pietro's son, Michele, eventually took the reins and built the international success that we all know about. Michele passed away on Valentines Day in 2015 and left the keys to the empire to his wife Maria. Their son, Giovanni Ferrero, currently heads the group in its continued success.

For a family that had begun with modest origins, they have created an empire that is known and patronized across the globe.

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