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As Germany maintains growth pattern, packaging rises to microwave challenge.

As Germany Maintains Growth Pattern, Packaging Rises to Microwave Challenge

QFFI's annual market survey finds that `alles gut' in the Federal Republic. In fact, overall sales are so good that frozen food consumption is fast approaching one-million tons annually.

With the exception of companies involved in building new cold stores, all factors of the German frozen food industry give the impression of being in good health and growing. On the processing front there is a strong possibility of non-poultry consumption reaching the magic one-million ton mark, if not in 1989, then certainly by 1990. The ready-made meal sector is growing nicely, and packaging companies have been pulling out all stops to service that market with particular emphasis on microwaveable materials.

Equipment manufacturers are not to be left behind, and developments in this field include Heinen GmbH launching a new freezing system.

Current talk is increasingly centered around the ANUGA Exhibition to be held Oct. 14-19 in Koln. Preparation for this show is now reaching its climax as organizers have booked some 6,000 companies from over 80 countries to display everything from food and drink to processing machinery, computer equipment, and so on -- much of which will be of interest to the frozen food industry. Visitors will not be far short of the 250,000 mark, up from 227,717 who attended the last event.

Quick Frozen Foods International recently surveyed the West German frozen food market, traveling from Lubeck in the north down to Bavaria. A from-the-field report of our findings follows.

One really must start with the potato market. Over the years processors have accumulated a remarkable variation and a number of recipes. Much of the increase has been built around the fast food market and by the acceptance of pommes frites being served at restaurant outlets. Of late much interest has been paid to developing new presentations for the product. One company to the forefront of this thinking is Schnefrost-Werke Schnetkamp.

Currently turning out over 20 different potato formations, Schnefrost plans to introduce 10 additional concepts at ANUGA. All products are made from the famous Bintje potato, of which 75% are grown in Germany and 25% are imported from Holland. The company has been raising the Bintje variety in Germany for the past decade as the combination of falling grain prices coupled with EEC quota systems has meant more farm land has become available for cultivating vegetable products. Thus future supplies are assured.

Schnefrost's growth has been entirely from internal initiatives rather than through the acquisition of other organizations. Investment has always been a priority, as evidenced by over 50-million Deutschmarks put into modernization over the last seven years. Besides impressive new office accommodations, production lines have been increased from five to 13. Three shifts are run daily, Monday to Friday.

Some 80% of production is sold in Germany, with 20% shipped to EEC countries and Japan. Export development is now among the company's priorities.


Agrarfrost GmbH is another leading German potato processor, packing domestic and international brands for both retail and fast food chains. Founded in 1967 by the present owner, Reinhold Stover, frozen production began in 1972. Although not one of the first companies in this field, it very quickly became one of the nation's foremost producers. Chips, baked potatoes in different cuts, and a broad spectrum of specialties including croquettes, rostis and duchesse potatoes are offered. The products are available in retail boxes as well as large-scale consumer packs, and are distributed direct to freezer centers or central depots.

The company owns potato fields on prime clay soil. A favorable climate makes for high capacity yields of Bintjes. There is also enough warehousing capacity on site to maintain a continuous supply of raw materials for production between harvests.


Spinach is still a leading frozen vegetable in Germany along with broccoli, beans and peas. Over the years much has been written on the subject of vegetables, but little on suppliers. Where does the raw material come from? Whom does one approach to get supplies?

Gustav Wulff GmbH is one such company. An old-established family firm currently run by two brothers, it procures thousands of tons of raw material for both the vegetable and fruit markets. Many years of experience in fresh produce enables them to bring special skills to frozen food marketing.

Supplies are generally sourced under contract conditions, allowing Wulff to oversee harvests throughout Germany and many other European countries. With large, regular stocks available for immediate delivery -- backed up by an intimate knowledge of exporting and importing -- an efficient service is available for production and shipping most types of vegetables and varied fruits.

V. Lind & Co.

V. Lind & Co. GmbH is another importer/exporter of vegetables and fruit, having a great deal of success with the growing popularity of asparagus. Once thought of as a delicacy, it is now being frozen for sale as a year-round product.

Demand in Germany and other EEC countries has expanded the market so much that major supplies are now being imported from the Far East, South America and Spain. Once frozen, the shelf life of the product is 18-24 months. Asparagus can be kept for up to three days before freezing, but storage must be at +4 [degrees] C in a humid atmosphere. All products are shipped under refrigerated conditions.

Mushrooms and beans are among other vegetables supplied by Lind. Its fruit lines include upscale fare ranging from raspberries to cranberries from Ocean Spray in U.S.A.

Because many vegetable processors in Western Europe are finding it difficult to compete price-wise with bulk suppliers from Eastern Europe, there has been a lot of interest and development in added-value products and ready-made meals. Such lines vary from straightforward pizza to meals for hospitals and schools where nutrition and related requirements are of great importance.


Hansa Tiefkuhlmenu GmbH is a leading packer of high quality deep frozen ready made meals and menu components. Its original production plant, built in 1969, has been steadfastly kept up to date as the market has grown in 20 years. Total prepared meals have risen from 30,000 to over 300,000 per annum.

Hansa's meals are aimed at all catering markets. For the industrial sector complete meals offer practical portion control advantages. Institutional dishes are created with highly nutritional fillings. The fast food, hotel and restaurant segment benefits from tailor-made lines of meals offering a high level of flexibility and low costs. Also, a large range of widely accepted retail meals in the medium size range is available under Hansa brands "Starfrost" and "Meister Menu."


Pickenpack Tiefkuhlgesellschaft has a strong historical association with the wet fish industry. However, in the past decade it has diversified into added-value and ready-made meals. Heavy investment has taken place in new office accommodations, modern equipment and extensive cold store facilities. The company's line includes a wide range of traditional items such as fish fingers, breaded and unbreaded fish fillets and portions. In addition, specialty lines of tempura products, fixed weight breaded fillets, and fish nuggets are offered.

Inspired by its deep seafood background, Pickenpack has produced a variety of prepared dishes made with fish as the main ingredient. With nine production lines in operation, 1988 output amounted to 24,000 tons. This figure is likely to increase to 26,000 in 1989.

To complement fish lines, the company is now marketing a selection of three special fruit mixes: fruit cocktail, red/black berries, and tropical fruits. Besides strong retail and catering business in Germany, numerous products are exported to France and other EEC countries. Supplying meals to leading international airlines is also part of the commercial profile.


Frosta Tiefkuhlkost GmbH has successfully diverted into the ready-made meal market after a lot of experimental work and market research. The Bon Appetit label has in a very short time earned the company an international reputation for its imaginative range. The products are all IQF and sprayed with a special sauce designed to retain flavor, thus allowing the packs to be partly used and returned to the freezer for re-use without sacrificing organoleptic qualities.

Packaging is multi-lingual and there are six international recipes available: Tortellini Souffle and Pasta Italiana from Italy; Chili con Carne from Mexico; Bami Goreng and Nasi Goreng from the Orient; Indian Chicken from Indonesia.

New composition of IQF fruit mixes has also been launched under the Feines Dessert Label. Current mixes are Fruit Cocktail, Mango Fruits, Fruit Salad from Florida and Fruit Berry mix. Packs, which can be resealed for future use, are being well received in Germany, France, Holland, Belgium and the United Kingdom.

Frosta is part of the Schottke Group, which is the largest independent private label packer in Europe producing for leading retailers.

Hamburger Plus

When QFFI visited the offices of Hamburger Feinfrost GmbH it expected to find only hamburgers. How wrong can one be! The company packs an appetizing array of specialized fish products including value-added and ready-made meals. It is a subsidiary of Gottfried Friedrich, a family-owned operation for 80 years that is the largest smoker of salmon and eel in Germany.

The product range covers shrimp, prawns, fish fillets, fish steaks, salmon, etc. Ready-made meals are specifically based on fish recipes, with products exported to many European countries including Austria, Denmark and Switzerland. Packaging is mainly in polybags and plastic tray see-through materials that allow customers to preview what they are buying. The market mix is 80% wholesale/catering and 20% retail.

Ernst Kratzenstein

The total consumption of fish in Germany in 1988 amounted to 72,572 tons, an increase of 5.4% over the 1987 figure of 68,864. Several of the leading fish companies have been covered already. However, a few lines should be written about specialist supplier Ernst Kratzenstein & Co. GmbH.

Established in 1866, the Hamburg-based outfit supplies raw material to processors. Its volume is mostly in white fish, with Alaskan pollock and hake fillets from the Pacific leading the list. It also trades in large quantities of frozen fillets from the Atlantic as well as salted fish fillets and frozen breaded precooked fish. The complete line will be represented at ANUGA.

The Packaging Scene

Packaging is equally as important as the food contents it protects. After all, it is the first contact to be made with a product by the purchaser. Thus packaging plus printing quality and convenience of use has meant multifarious research and development taking place.

The rapid increase in domestic microwave oven ownership in West Germany and throughout many parts of Europe and beyond has created various problems within the domestic packaging industry. Among the challenges are: developing special materials to withstand temperatures of 200 [degrees] C plus; providing flat storage qualities to save on warehouse space and transport costs; forming, filling, sealing and freezing at high speeds; eliminating the need for additional outer packs; formulating carton material conducive to quality printing results that make for cabinet appeal; providing easy opening features.

4P Nicolaus Kempton

A company which has met with much success in this field is 4P Nicolaus Kempton. Involved in packaging for many years, it has been associated with systems such as Kliklok, Diotite and Sprinter. Its R & D department works closely with customers, continually monitoring the world's packaging industry to detect changes in materials and technology. An in-depth knowledge of existing materials and machinery, as well as processing and consumer habits, has allowed the firm to keep up with and set market trends.

Europa Carton

Another company in this field that has approached the market with similar tenacity is Europa Carton. Fully aware of the fact that packaging is an integral part of the microwave and convenience themes, the outfit shows its competence through a number of modern concepts reflecting market changes. One example is Diotray -- a new style whose shape signals to consumers that the contents in the package can be microwaved. Therefore the primary package is its own advertiser, requiring no further wrapping. Retailers prefer this pack because of its display power not only in the freezer aisle, but also in the freezer cabinet.

Qwick-Crisp receptor foil widens the sale of products for microwave heating. It has succeeded in overcoming the well known microwave problems of browning and crisping. Europa Carton offers many variations, such as receptor foil as a supplement to the package or as part of the box itself.

M & W

Flexy packaging film is produced by M & W Verpackungen GmbH. Founded in 1973, M & W has gained a reputation of reliability with a list of frozen food clients including Aviko, Ross, Agrarfrost and McCain.

The company has enjoyed continual growth since 1974 when it supplied 500 tons of delivered film. This figure increased to 26,000 tons in 1988. And as new equipment has been installed, production is expected to reach 30,000 tons this year.

M&W boasts six printing machines, three of which are capable of seven-color work. Film is printed on site and packed into reels for delivery to food factories. Groflex PE and PP Bags can be produced in up to seven colors in heliogravure and flexographic print, a maximum of 1,700 mm to 2,000 mm permitting right-round printing of bags.

The versatility of the machinery enables the company to offer a variety of 11 systems such as a side-fold bag and flip-tops bags. Some 30% of today's production satisfies export orders, with a new plant now in operation in Canada. Further expansion plans include the opening of at least one new factory in the U.S.A. within the next two years.


Multivac is a company that specializes in making rigid packs with variable thermoforming depth. Its primary packaging materials offer dimensional stability tailored for individual applications. Machineability is a key factor in this context, as it is possible to process the different films on thermoforming equipment.

Multivac has developed an accuforming system that succeeds in reducing both packaging costs and material waste. "Since the distribution of material thickness in the problem areas can be controlled, it is possible to process thinner films than is the case with the negative forming process with and without plug assistance," informed W. Sparakowski.

The process has been further developed for variable applications. With one approach, for example, a single large mould is divided into a number of smaller units by changing the plugs so that several packs may be produced per cycle. This setup is recommended for high volume output.

The second process is used when products of different height or volume, but exhibiting the same pack base area, are packaged. The system can be used for either large or small volume production.

Equipment Trends

Germany's reputation for engineering skills came into its own recently when Heinen GmbH, under the marketing slogan "Springtime by Heinen," unveiled its latest equipment for the frozen food industry -- the Junior CT. The new spiral freezer's target audience includes producers looking to change from cryogenic gas to mechanical freezing. Working on conventional lines, this compact equipment can reportedly be installed over a weekend into an area of less than 15 [m.sup.2]. Its versatility allows the freezing of products such as fish, meat, pizza, baked goods and ice cream.

The introduction of Junior CT was made more dramatic as it shared the stage with a twin drum spiral freezer made for the gateaux company Coppenwrath & Wilse GmbH. Reaching eight metres in height (approximately 26 feet) this is the largest piece of equipment ever made by Heinen. It features three belts measuring .914 metres wide and 1,420 long -- giving an effective belt space of 1,054 [m.sup.2]. The freezer is capable of producing 2,800 gateaux units per hour.

Bertram & Graf

Cutting equipment is required by many companies involved in frozen foods. Bertram & Graf GmbH specializes in high quality band saw blades made of original Swedish steel. To increase blade life many saws are tip-hardened. The equipment is used by frozen fish, meat and vegetable companies throughout Europe, the Middle East and the Americas.

In 1986 Bertram & Graf was taken over by the U.S. company, Bairnco Corporation, and this development has extended band saw blade trade within North and South America for the company.

Although the firm's leading brand name is Fish Meister, it is expanding the specialist range which includes the Supra -- a heavyduty blade for high volume operations. Other offerings include: the Bandmeister, recommended for boneless food and food with soft bones; the Ossian, a general purpose tool; the Rosterei, which is used for cutting when unusually strict hygiene is required.

BBC York

Brown Boveri York, known as BBC York, is a company dealing with industrial and commercial refrigeration which includes the construction of cold and deepfreeze rooms, standardized refrigeration units, etc.

Innovative technology is very much to the fore as the firm recently launched a new generation of freezers under Contair V. This fully automated freezing tunnel is suited for products packed in bulk form such as poultry and meat. Designed for fully automatic loading and unloading, it can be integrated into continuously operating production lines with capacities up to 20,000 kilos per hour.


A cold room built within hours is the specialty of Telewig GmbH, which supplies the catering trade and processing industry. Offering a solution for cold storage problems, Telewig prepares all parts on site--from doors and shelving down to complete turnkey operations. Over the years the company has developed a selection of efficient construction kits which can be combined to knit into any request size, which means they can be easily enlarged or reduced to customers' requirements.


Frederick Justus & Co. GmbH, founded in 1723, is run today by two brothers who have direct lineage back to the original Justus family. In the 1960s the company became involved with the frozen food industry and has since gained a reputation for servicing customers throughout Europe. It concentrates much selling activity in two major fields: freezing systems (Starfrost) and photoelectronic sorting machines (EMS).

Starfrost's IQF system is aimed at companies involved in processing soft fruit, vegetables and potato chips. Spiral freezers cater to a range of products requiring medium to long retention times such as meat, fish, pizza and poultry. Each system is designed to offer flexibility in specifications, allowing clients to upgrade in increased capacity when required. Since last summer, Justus claims to have sold 23 Starfrost units on the Continent.

The other field covers E.S.M. International Inc. sorting machines, with the ESM Summa -- 6 BFF currently proving to be a successful piece of equipment. It has been specifically designed for wet and frozen applications, proving suitable for soft fruits, peas, beans and diced vegetables. Indeed, the machine does the job for similarly-sized frozen products. ESM Sorting machines are used by many leading companies including Ross-Youngs, Salvesen, Frigoscandia and Birds Eye-Walls.


Rud Baader & Co. KG is renowned in the fish filleting world, Its services include such major operations as the fitting of fish factory ships. Much of its work is carried out for clients in the Soviet Union and other East bloc countries. Indeed, Baader is currently outfitting three factory ships for Russia. One is in service, the second will be ready this year, while work is well advanced on the third vessel.

Although the company's range of filleting machines is aimed at the fish industry, it is having success with a chicken breast filleting machine. Known as the Baader 640, the compact unit can produce up to 80 whole fillets per minute.


Magurit Gefrierschneider GmbH recently celebrated its 130th anniversary. A family business now run by the fourth generation, the company is strengthening its connections with the frozen food industry. Specializing in block cutting equipment for some 35 years, it offers a range of size reduction machines that chip, flake and cube food.

Always aware of the high cost of processing, extensive R & D takes place to keep costs down. There have been a series of components added including pallet lifters and conveyors, plus other refinements that enable cutting times to be considerably shortened. The bottom line is less wearing action, improved efficiency and reduced energy costs.

PHOTO : Kartoffel-Platzchen from Schnefrost is a potato pancake filled with meat and vegetables. A

PHOTO : German staple, it has proved popular abroad too.

PHOTO : This Bombay style recipe dish is representative of the international seafood cuisine that

PHOTO : Pickenpak is producing for both domestic and export markets.

PHOTO : Frosta's Feines Dessert brand features Florida Dessert Salad, one of four exotic mixes

PHOTO : available.

PHOTO : The wide variety of fish fare carried by Hamburger Feinfrost GmbH covers everything from

PHOTO : shrimp and lobster to fish fillets, steaks, surimi and squid.

PHOTO : An example of the microwaveable Diotray packaging system available from Europa Carton.

PHOTO : Flexy packaging supplied by M & W Verpackungen is proving popular with a number of

PHOTO : international FF producers such as Ross in the United Kingdom.

PHOTO : Heinen manufactured this large twin drum spiral freezer for Coppenwrath & Wilse GmbH, a

PHOTO : gateux packer.

PHOTO : BBC York's Contair V is designed to freeze various kinds of foods simultaneously and at

PHOTO : varying speeds. It is said to be especially adept at handling bulk products such as

PHOTO : poultry and meat.

PHOTO : The Frigobox 750 illustrates the kind of "cold rooms" supplied by Telewig GmbH. The design

PHOTO : is popular among hoteliers, restaurateurs and institutional kitchen operators.

PHOTO : Here is one of the three largest operational Starfrost helix spiral freezing/chilling food

PHOTO : systems ever built.

PHOTO : An example of the durable food dicing machines produced by Magurit.
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Title Annotation:News from West Germany; includes related articles
Author:Brown, Morrison
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jul 1, 1989
Previous Article:Thirty years of amazing QFF changes, and at least as many more to come!
Next Article:Scholler sales up nearly 10% to DM 962-M getting on track for 1992 united Europe.

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