Michele Ferrero (born 1927) is the owner of the eponymous chocolate maker Ferrero SpA, one of Europe's largest with estimated 2002 sales of $4 billion. He is Italy's richest person, with a personal wealth of $11.00 billion, surpassing Silvio Berlusconi in March, 2008.
In Italy, after the war, candy and confections were in short supply and were purchased mainly for special occasions from the local sweet shop. It was in the small town of Alba, in northwestern Italy, that master confectioner Pietro Ferrero developed a system that enabled him to mass-produce high quality confectionery and offer them to consumers at reasonable prices.
The first of the Ferrero products was Pasta Gianduja, a chocolate-hazelnut spread that, re-named Nutella, was destined to become the highest selling sweet spread in the world. Since that first successful venture, Ferrero has gone on to introduce many of the best known confectionery brands in the world.
Although Pietro Ferrero and his brother Giovanni had laid the groundwork for future company success, when both died in the early 1950s, it fell to Pietro's son, Michele Ferrero, to continue the pursuit of their firm, as Ferrero expanded across Europe.
Ferrero first moved beyond Italy in 1956, establishing both manufacturing facilities and offices in Germany. This was followed by France in 1958.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Michele Ferrero began a strong new phase of international expansion with sales offices and production facilities outside Europe. Ferrero U.S.A., Inc. was first, then came Ferrero Canada, Ferrero Australia, Ferrero Ecuador, Ferrero Brazil, Ferrero Japan, and Ferrero Inc. in Puerto Rico.
More recently, offices have been opened in Hungary, Poland and in the Czech Republic.