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Success Story

Northwest Hazelnut Company, Hubbard

Clean power expands markets

With consumers increasingly interested in the sustainability of their food, Northwest Hazelnut Company saw an opportunity to get a competitive advantage.

By replacing inefficient halogen lighting with LEDs and installing 1,000 solar electric panels, the company is able to produce all of its own energy from a clean, renewable source.

“We’ve begun highlighting sustainability efforts in our marketing and have seen a big increase in sales,” said Larry George, vice president. “Companies like Kraft Foods and Ferrero, the Italian company that produces Nutella, take sustainability seriously. They visit suppliers and conduct sustainability audits.”

Thanks to a 30 percent federal investment tax credit for the solar system and Energy Trust cash incentives equaling $151,000, George expects the investments to pay for themselves through energy savings within six years.

But the bigger advantage is what increased sustainability means for 800 local hazelnut growers. “Oregon’s hazelnut acreage has doubled in the last 10 years and is likely to triple in the next three,” said George. “Sustainability will help the industry expand into new markets and be more competitive, especially internationally where we still represent only 4 percent of the market.”

“Hazelnuts could become a $300-million Oregon industry in the next few years,” said George. “Sustainability will help ensure Oregon nuts are highly sought after worldwide and command a premium price.”