Berlin, September 2016 – the German confectioner Katjes wins the European Candy Kettle Award for their innovative product development strategy. Bastian Fassin and Tobias Bachmüller were obviously proud and glad to win the Candy Kettle Award 2016.
Veggie is the key! This philosophy is not only a statement in the Emmerich/Germany-based Katjes company. Being different in a market in which every cent counts, in which the competition is on an incredibly high level and in which the price level for sugar confectionery is very low, you have to be different to be successful.
To be different, Bastian Fassin, family owner of Katjes and Tobias Bachmüller, Managing Director of Katjes decided in early 2010 to shift their focus to vegetarian fruit gums and liquorice. “For us, this is an important milestone in Katjes’ history,” says Tobias Bachmüller. “Our vegetarian strategy has proven a success. Not only were we the first market player to pick up on this key trend, it also demonstrates our commitment to sustainability.”
It all began with liquorice. On his travels Xaver Fassin brought a liquorice recipe from Sicily. He passed the recipe to his son Klaus Fassin who made liquorice in form of a little cat and named it Katjes, Dutch for “little cat”. A little black cat was supposed to be a symbol for luck and was and still is a popular symbol. It was the birth of the brand Katjes and, as we know the company today, Katjes Fassin GmbH & Co. KG.
In 1971 Katjes began to produce fruit gums. The Yoghurt gums were born. Katjes started to produce fruit gums in all varieties, colours and shapes and began in 1988 to use only natural colours in their production.
In 1996 Tobias Bachmüller entered the company to support the Katjes team. Bachmüller began in 2000 to add famous brands to the company´s portfolio. Katjes bought Sallos, Villosa and Hustelinchen. In 2002 Frigeo became part of the Katjes family and in 2003 Katjes bought “Gletscher Eis”, a hard-boiled candy brand with a long history that relates back to 1927. In 2004 Bastian Fassin joined the company and took over from Klaus Fassin who nevertheless stops by from time to time and keeps contact to the business. Katjes did not stop their buying strategy and bought the Granini hard-boiled candy brand in 2005.
In 2006 Katjes began to produce the Granini candy by themselves in their brand new production facility in Potsdam near Berlin. As a special feature they built a fully transparent hard-boiled candy factory in which visitors can watch the whole production process.
In 2009 the brand Lutti joined the company and in 2015 Katjes licensed the brand Vicks for Europe and Russia. The latest innovation was the 3D-printing process Katjes developed and showed at ISM in Cologne in 2015 for the first time.
As mentioned before Katjes began in 2010 to shift their production to vegetarian ingredients. This process took a while and was completed at the beginning of 2016.
To meet their own goals in being different Katjes installed a state of the art sewage treatment plant to reduce organic waste in wastewater by almost 95 percent. This also means energy recovery.
To support their co-workers, Katjes runs a special baby-bonus programme and spends 1,000 Euros for every newborn. After all, the company showed on many levels that they are different, think different and behave different.
That’s why Bastian Fassin and Tobias Bachmüller put that much effort in pushing the veggie strategy to a 100 percent level. Katjes is now the number 1 brand in vegetarian sugar confectionery.
In 1973 the idea of the Kettle Award came to Europe with the mutual agreement of Don Gussow, founder of the American Candy Kettle Association and Guy Urbain, an eminent Parisian confectioner, and a Club was formed in Europe.
The European Candy Kettle Club consists of members from companies supplying ingredients and machinery to the confectionery industry as well as members of the trade press.
The Club honours each year a company representative from the European confectionery industry who has excelled in the confectionery, chocolate and biscuit industry in research and development, innovation in product quality and production techniques and outstanding marketing and sales implementation, and made a unique contribution to the industry’s progress.
The selection criteria are outstanding achievements in:
In recognition of these achievements, each year at an award ceremony in their choice of European venue, the winner receives a traditional miniature Copper Candy Kettle and a certificate.
Usually the award ceremony takes place in a luxury hotel, a special restaurant or any other official place. Katjes is different and to meet this motto the award ceremony took place in a condemned house somewhere in Berlin. Katjes made it a perfect scene to direct the ceremony. We had a perfect look in the almost destroyed courtyard but the “room” itself was full of Berlin´s renewal charm.
Club member Heiko Kühn, managing director of Hänsel Processing, Germany who supplied a Sucroliner 1701 for Katjes said: ”The 2016 Candy Kettle Award Winners Bastian Fassin and Tobias Bachmüller are standing for an innovative, modern company that completed their shift to produce full ‘veggie’ sets a trend. I was very impressed by their entrepreneurial foresight”. Roberto Benzi from the ingredients supplier Chr. Hansen mentioned the complexity of a process like the shift to a full vegetarian production also for declaration and marketing.
And the treasurer of the ECKC Rainer Runkel, managing director of Winkler and Dünnebier who supplied a couple of Mogul lines for the Emmerich plant of Katjes was impressed by the quality of planning at the production plant in Potsdam.