Michele Ferrero, Italy’s richest person and owner of the Ferrero Group –the company that makes Nutella spread and Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs – has died. He was 89.
Ferrero helped bring the chocolate-hazelnut Nutella spread, Ferrero Rocher pralines, Kinder eggs and Tic Tac sweets to the world, turning a provincial chocolate factory into what is widely seen as Italy's most valuable privately owned company.
At the time of his death, Michele Ferrero’s net worth of $22.3 billion ranked him 31st, the highest of any Italian, on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. It was Ferrero's father, a small-time pastry maker named Pietro Ferrero, who laid the groundwork for the recipe and famously added hazelnut to it to save money on chocolate. But it Michele Ferrero turned the paste into the Nutella, now known the world over.
Ferrero, who had been ill for several months, died Saturday in Montecarlo where he lived, surrounded by his family, the company said in a statement.
Sergio Mattarella, Italy’s president, praised Ferrero as one of the protagonists of Italian industry, “always ahead of his time thanks to innovative products and his tenacious and reserved work.” Twitter was also flooded with messages from people who thanked Ferrero for "sweetening up" their lives.