Hochland is celebrating its 90th anniversary ‒ Pioneering spirit then and now
Today you would probably call it a "start-up": With modest means, but all the more energy and adventurous spirit Robert Reich and Geore Summer founded the Hochland cheese factory on September 1, 1927. They had realised the potential in processed cheese.
The novel product, invented only a few years ago in Switzerland, has many advantages: Processed cheese can be packed in any portion size. With ingredients such as herbs and ham, it offers a previously unknown variety of flavors. And, the biggest step forward at the time, when a fridge was not available in every household: Processed cheese can be kept for a long time even without refrigeration.
The production begins in rented cellars in Goßholz near Lindenberg (Allgäu). A few years later, the company relocates to the nearby village Heimenkirch, where the family business is still at home today.
The first Hochland product is a 2 kilogram processed cheese block, to be sliced in the shops. A little later, processed cheese portions in a round box are added to the portfolio - the product that is still indispensable to the international Hochland product range today.
In 1942, a third shareholder joins the company through the merger with the company Franz Fuchs in Dietmannsried. To date, Hochland is an independent private company owned by the three families.
The small Allgäu start-up with a handful of employees has long since become an international group of companies with currently 4,400 employees (2016). For the first time in its history, Hochland exceeded 300,000 tonnes of cheese in 2016, with sales totaling 1.2 billion euros across the Group. Hochland is one of the largest privately owned cheese producers in Europe, with well-known brands such as Almette, Grünländer, Patros, Valbrie, Gervais and Hochland.
The milestones that have made a decisive contribution to the development of the Allgäu family business include cooperation with other pioneers of their time, such as Aldi in the 1950s and McDonald's from the 1970s, as well as the early expansion into Central and Eastern Europe in the 90s with own subsidiaries and plants in Poland, Romania and Russia.
In the meantime, Hochland is entering new continents: at the beginning of 2017, the cheese manufacturer took over US cream cheese producer Franklin Foods with two factories. The subsidiary Hochland Natec, an engineering company, is also present in Australia with GoldPeg.
With the subsidiary E.V.A. GmbH, Hochland has also opened up a completely new market segment. Production at the small plant in Oberreute is based on state-of-the-art cheese technology, but milk is not processed there: The delicious pure-vegetable products of the Simply V brand consist mainly of almonds. The vegan spreads, slices and the latest product Simply V Schmelzgenuss can be used in the same way as cheese: as a spread, on a sandwich and for baking.
Of course, Hochland was there when Amazon launched its food delivery service "Fresh" in Germany at the beginning of May. Around 40 articles from the Hochland portfolio have since been available online.
All these examples show that even 90 years after the foundation, the Hochlanders have not lost the pioneering spirit and thirst for adventure. As Peter Stahl, CEO of Hochland SE, says in the anniversary brochure: "90 years of Hochland: We’ve had a good start ‒ and now let us head for new horizons!"
Hochland at a Glance
• Approx 4,400 employees in 8 countries: Germany, France, Spain, Poland, Romania, Russia, USA, Australia
• Two cheese factories in Germany: Heimenkirch and Schongau
• No. 2 branded cheese manufacturer in Germany (sales in 2016)
• Market leader in Poland, Romania and Russia
• Products for food retailers, food industry and gastronomy
• Award several times at the competition "Germany's best employer"
• Wide range of training courses in dairy, commercial and technical professions