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The flavour division of MANE’s activities in Germany cover a broad product range and an even wider sales territory, with a particularly soft spot for vanilla ice cream and plant transition…

Visiting what seems like a restaurant kitchen on one floor and a trendy bar on the other, you could be forgiven for thinking you had the wrong address for MANE’s flavour division in Germany. Yet the creation of these two areas reflects the importance of the culinary and beverage clients for a business where the Group’s focus on natural, sustainable products could not be more aligned with the evolving demand of the local market.

“Consumers in our region are very engaged with the environment, natural food ingredients and the move away from meat to vegetarian and vegan lifestyles,” says Peter Henrich, the division’s general manager and sales director. “And with our product portfolio and customer expertise, we’re extremely well positioned to meet those needs and recipes.”

A strategic location

Based in the western city of Kerpen, the team’s territory extends to Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland and all the Nordic countries. Having opened in 2007, the Kerpen site occupies 650m2, while its location and infrastructure between Cologne and Aachen is ideal due to service the large number of clients nearby.

Carrying out mainly sales and marketing operations, the responsibilities are divided by geography and product segment:

  • food and drinks
  • dairy and dairy ice cream
  • confectionery
  • bakery and snacks.

Along with the culinary and beverage labs, Kerpen has another one for confectionery, bakery and dairy products, and a fourth for snacks creation.

A different kind of setting

Despite having all the equipment for technical evaluation and storage, the beverage area is clearly designed not to look like a typical laboratory. “It’s a pleasant setting for holding workshops, inviting clients and doing evaluations,” explains Peter Henrich. Completed in 2020, a year was lost to Covid-19 lockdowns before it became a focal point for a business covering the full spectrum of drinks manufacturers’ needs: hot and cold, carbonated, and non-carbonated, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

Opened in November 2022, and run by a full-time chef, the kitchen is devoted to flavourings for food manufacturers – with vegetarian and vegan alternatives to meat featuring prominently on the menu. “It’s constructed for working together with clients, so they can send their chefs to work with our chef and have their marketing people work with our marketing people in a super-modern, open environment where we can provide food to an industrial standard,” says Peter Henrich.

A focus on clean labels

As in other territories, the task facing his team is to select the flavourings and taste solutions available from the innovation and category experts at Le Bar-Sur-Loup that suit the local market. As many consumers shop for food only once or twice a week and a lot of produce is frozen after purchase, the flavourings chosen for the domestic market need to perform effectively after a spell in the freezer. Another characteristic of the German market is a genuine consumer demand for sustainable, clean label products that are backed by effective presentation and storytelling. In practice, it means providing shoppers with a range of information about:

  • the ingredients
  • the processing of a product
  • locally sourced or imported
  • the CO2 footprint
  • flavour regulation.

A telling example of these demands is vanilla ice cream, an area where MANE has particular competences. “In Germany, it must contain Bourbon vanilla extract from Madagascar, and there must be a high dosage of it in the ice cream,” explains Peter Henrich. “The regulations about the product and its labelling are extremely strict.” The fact that MANE has been working alongside and supporting farmers in Madagascar for nearly 30 years created a history of sustainability and expertise in high quality Bourbon extract. That ticks all the boxes for Germany’s demanding clients.

A smaller CO2 footprint

Aligned with the Group’s commitment, caring for the environment is also important for the teams in Kerpen. Among the low-carbon technologies used in their building are:

  • LED lighting
  • double glazing
  • insulation
  • solar panels
  • heat pumps.

To reduce plastic waste, the teams use glass sample containers for evaluations that are cleaned after use, while paper plates and bowls are used for food.

This commitment to sustainability, along with MANE’s longstanding reputation in Germany for natural products, are not its only advantages when it comes to marketing. The fact that MANE is a family-owned company has particular resonance in a country where a remarkable 90% of companies are family firms[1]. “Many of our mid- to large-sized customers here are family-owned businesses, and they like working with an independent, top-five company that is free to express its opinions and decide its own financial governance,” Peter Henrich observes. “So, our image in Germany is really special and highly appreciated.”

Behind that success is a team that has been together for many years, with a real passion for their work. An open plan environment, open doors and a flat hierarchy are all designed to make it easy to communicate with each other. “They are genuinely interested in what’s new in our segments and sharing with each other their analysis of trends they have seen or read about them on TV, in articles or in supermarkets,” says Peter Henrich. “It’s inspiring!”