175 years of Nordzucker
Nordzucker AG celebrates its 175th anniversary this year.
This is a wonderful occasion for us to thank you all for your invaluable commitment over the years. And especially a chance to take a look with you at what the future may bring, and to discuss with you the opportunities and challenges which face us in the years ahead.
An important foundation stone for today's Nordzucker AG was set into place in 1838 when the sugar factory in Klein Wanzleben was founded in the sugar industry's pioneering heartland - the Magdeburg Börde.
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Nordzucker celebrates 175th anniversary
Nordzucker AG, Braunschweig, is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year. In 1838 the plant in Klein Wanzleben was established as the first sugar factory in Nordzucker's region and is still in use today. A number of festivities and events are planned for the year under the "Sustainable. Dedicated. Together." anniversary motto. For its role as a foundation stone of today's company, a local ceremony was already held in Klein Wanzleben's honour. To mark the occasion, Nordzucker donated a total of EUR 60,000, with EUR 30,000 each going to the local church and the town trust. Nordzucker is celebrating this milestone anniversary with staff events at all of its sites. One of the main reasons for the festivities is to express the Nordzucker Executive Board's gratitude and acknowledge the staff's dedication to the sugar-producing company. In addition to an anniversary film and exhibition, a commemorative publication and brochures in each local language documenting Nordzucker's history will look back at the roots of the company. The high point of the year will be the celebration held on 26 September in Braunschweig with a symposium on the topic of sustainability. A number of international guests are expected to attend.
Important corporate topics from the past and present will be brought together under the "Sustainable. Dedicated. Together." anniversary motto. Sustainability has a long-standing tradition at Nordzucker. Environmental and resource conservation are both deeply embedded in the company's history and are given top priority. The reason for this is that protecting water, earth and air as well as continuously minimising energy consumption are essential to the success of the company. As a sugar and food producer, Nordzucker is aware of its significant responsibilities. Every year the company invests between EUR 60 and 80 million in its facilities in order to optimise processing. The company also considers safe working conditions that motivate its staff to be an essential part of its responsibilities. Their skill and commitment is another important pillar of the company's success. Klein Wanzleben is the oldest sugar manufacturing site in Northern Germany and one of Nordzucker's many foundation stones. Today, the company produces in seven European countries and is the EU's second-biggest sugar producer. While the company's legal and ownership form has changed several times in the course of its history, its production of sugar has continued uninterrupted from 1838 until today. Nordzucker has steadily evolved out of individual factory companies. Courage and an entrepreneurial spirit have shaped its history at many stages and played a key role in moving the company forward. Innovative technologies and quantum leaps in beet cultivation have kept domestically produced sugar competitive. As a result of its rural origins, Nordzucker remains closely tied to agriculture today: More than 15,000 farmers from all over Europe supply sugar beet to 13 sugar factories in seven countries.
An important foundation stone for today's Nordzucker AG was set into place in 1838 when the sugar factory in Klein Wanzleben was founded in the sugar industry's pioneering heartland - the Magdeburg Börde. Farmer Peter Wallstab saw the upward trend in the sugar industry in the late 1830s and successfully built and operated a factory for making beet sugar. By founding a stock corporation with other landowners as shareholders, he raised sufficient capital to begin large-scale production of sugar beet syrup and raw sugar at Wallstab & Co. Raw sugar was refined into white sugar at refineries 20 kilometres away in Magdeburg. The factory also made sugar beet syrup. At first there would have been no steam power - just horse-driven mills, manual labour and open fires. Compared to the first sugar factory in Wanzleben, which existed from 1812/1813 until 1818/1819 and processed 420 tonnes of beet a year, Wallstab & Co. produced ten times the quantity. In the following decades the factory would become the largest and most modern in the Börde region.
The sugar industry experienced a boom from the 1860s onwards: modern processing techniques, improved cultivation methods and fiscal support for sugar exports resulted in increased production and rising demand. Sugar became part of the general diet and the industry became an important part of the German economy. The volume of raw sugar obtained per campaign in the Schladen factory rose from 600 tonnes in 1871/1872 to 6,100 tonnes by the turn of the century. Demand for sugar also increased dramatically. Greater prosperity meant that sweet desserts became part of people's everyday menu: per capita consumption in the German Empire tripled from around 4 kilogrammes to nearly 14 kilogrammes a year between 1870 and 1900. Sugar beet became the dominant crop in regions of Northern Germany that had previously been given over to the cultivation of cereals. During this period of prosperity, Nordzucker AG set up four new factories that are still in existence today: Nordstemmen, Clauen, Schladen und Uelzen.
The "Golden Age" of the sugar industry ended around 1900 and the subsequent world wars brought drastic changes. Germany lost its leading place in the international sugar business after the First World War. The National Socialists did keep the sugar industry going at the beginning of the Second World War, since it was deemed "vital to the war effort", but resources and labour became scarce as time went on. After 1945 the land under cultivation in Northern Germany was torn apart. The rebuilding phase was used to convert the factories from raw sugar production to white sugar production. The Magdeburg Börde, which had once been at the centre of the sugar boom, had a particularly difficult time picking up the pieces - as did the Klein Wanzleben factory. The sugar industry in the Soviet occupation zone had to struggle with the conversion to a command economy. To stop the knowledge at Rabbethge & Giesecke AG (a successor to Wallstab & Co.) from falling into Soviet hands, members of the British occupying forces confiscated all the documents and materials from the sugar factory beforehand in a cloak-and-dagger operation. They were taken to safety at the Rabbethge manor house in Rotenkirchen near Einbeck.
The large sugar producers profited from the West German "economic miracle" in the 1950s, while the smaller ones fell victim to the subsequent processes of concentration. The "European sugar market regime" expanded the market in which Norddeutsche Zucker GmbH was founded as a sales organisation in 1967. Most of the former heartland for beet cultivation lay in the German Democratic Republic, which neglected to modernise the roughly 70 sugar factories situated there. German reunification was the cause of great upheaval. Reunification was followed by a merger of the "big three" of the sugar industry in Northern Germany, which significantly helped them to remain competitive in the growing European sugar market. In 1997 practically the entire sugar industry of Northern Germany combined to form Nordzucker AG, marking an auspicious start to the new millennium.
After its establishment, Nordzucker realigned itself and created its own brand, with a standardised design using the "Blue World". Following integration of the sugar market as part of German reunification, Nordzucker intensified its activities in Eastern Europe by way of investments there and later in Northern Europe. A pan-European sugar market gradually emerged in the early 2000s under tougher economic conditions. The company had to cope with sweeping changes, particularly as a result of the sugar market reforms in 2006. The priority was to overcome the resulting factory closures in as socially acceptable a manner as possible. Despite this, the Northern German sugar manufacturer was gradually able to strengthen its position on international markets, with the acquisition of Danisco Sugar A/S (Nordic Sugar) in 2009 as a final step. Nordzucker AG has now grown to become a modern European group active in the food market. It has 3,300 employees in 13 sugar factories, two liquid sugar factories, three refineries, the fuel 21 bioethanol plant, NP Sweet and the Nordic Sugar office in Copenhagen, as well as the company headquarters in Braunschweig. In the financial year 2012/13, the company reported revenues of EUR 2.4 billion.
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