Founded in 1925 by Alfons Loacker, A. Loacker SpA has the kind of story that shapes destinies and inspires younger generations. It began as a small cafe and bakery, one that was already showing its first signs of commitment for all-natural ingredients.
“The attitude was always: Put something good in, and you will get something fine out,” says Hans-Peter Dejakum, head of public relations and marketing for Loacker, who has been with the company for over 20 years. During those nascent years, Loacker specialised in crafting fine European baked goods such as tortes and cakes, but it was not long before Mr. Loacker made the decision to focus on baked goods that would retain their freshness over longer periods of time.
“It was actually a by-product of our founder’s obsession with football,” Mr. Dejakum explains. “He did not want to work at night, so he started specialising in wafers.” As the decades pasted, and the company quickly transformed itself into a regional and then an international specialty, new generations of the Loacker family took over the business.
Today, Loacker is operated by the founders’ grandsons and creates its fine wafer products on fully modernised equipment. Loacker has become a name synonymous with the wafer, a real Italian original with a firm place in European culture.
Wafer-making has long been an art associated with the richest houses of Europe. Loacker was once an Austrian company, and as such, it took many of its cultural cues from the Habsburg court, which was famed for its wafers. From the beginning, wafers have held the mystique of courtly life and refinement.
Loacker is the company that first offered this elegance in snack form to the wider public. Today, Loacker employs 662 people, 367 at its main site. Altogether, its activities bring in revenues of 282,7 million EUR annually.
Loacker’s production history shows how it has built upon its original concept to establish itself among the ranks of established European brands. By 1974, it had grown too large for its facilities in Bolzano and had moved to its headquarters in Auna di Sotto. It eventually expanded its Bolzano facilities in 1990.
By 1999, it was building a state-of-theart production site in eastern Tyrol, at a facility specialising in wafers and crème, as well as the company’s chocolate specialities. Both of its 1,000 m² facilities are situated in locations known for their great air and fabulous water quality.
“This quality is not part of a marketing strategy; it is at the heart of our philosophy,” Mr. Dejakum says. Loacker produces a full range of wafer specialities, around 29,875 t each year and two million items each day. Roughly 65% of its products consist of wafer-related specialities.
“Wafers are the crispy foundation upon which we build our snacks,” Mr. Dejakum says. The rest of Loacker’s production is given over to chocolate products from a line of 150 different items, an area of increasing importance for the company.
Altogether, Loacker has more than 3,000 available for export. Loacker’s brand is synonymous with quality, thanks largely to the company’s insistence on quality ingredients and only the most exacting production standards.
“Natural quality using natural ingredients is our starting block,” Mr. Dejakum says. Loacker shapes the quality of its products by doing everything it can to produce them in-house and by using only the finest source ingredients.
The company has never used trans fats and selects only the most exquisite chocolates and tasty nut varieties for its products. In many cases, it implements ingredients sourced from the surrounding countryside.
Loacker is the number three confectioner in Italy, after Barilla and Ferrero, and was able to establish wafer desserts at the exact right time to take advantage of a premium product positioning.
Wafers themselves are products that must be eaten fresh, since they take up the taste and moisture of their surroundings. This freshness principle places extra demands on the company, which it has more than accommodated with its strict attention to product quality.
Rare is the European who has not encountered a Loacker product, from classic chocolate wafers and bars to fine pastry products, snack ties and pralines. The company’s products are segmented into product brands based on how the wafers are prepared and presented: Loacker Gardena, Gran Pasticceria, Schocosnacks, Rose of the Dolomites pralines, Quadratini and others. The company also does a robust business with its gift packages.
The company adds three to five new product types to its catalogue each year. Loacker sells its products to consumers through a number of avenues. It reaches its export markets through general importers and through specialists in the confectionaries market who bring its products to larger supermarkets and smaller individual proprietor stores. It has built its following step-by-step by adapting its sales to the cultures itsells to.
“Our understanding is: Better to start small and stay consistent over the long term,” Mr. Dejakum says. Loacker has taken this approach to extend its reach into 100 countries around the world and to raise its export figures to 68%, half of which comes from the Middle East, where it has had a presence since the 1980s.
Whenever it enters a new market, Loacker tailors its product and its presence to that market, a strategy that has brought it great success in the Middle East, in Japan, where it has been since the 1970s, and to Germany, a very important market for the company. It retains a 60% market share for wafer products in Italy.
Loacker meets many of its partners at international food fairs, where it has long been an active player. Cologne’s ANUGA food fair is always a special showcase for its work. In the following years, these presentations will include even more products from its chocolate wafer lines and increased diversification of its wafer products to meet the specific demands of vastly differing markets.
“Specialisation is definitely the path we will take,” Mr. Dejakum says. “We still have much to do in different markets,” he adds. “We have quite ambitious goals, but our strategy to reach those goals is pretty straightforward,” he adds.
The path for Loacker is clear – to find new ways to bring its brand of pure goodness to the world in the form of a crispy, light, exquisite snack. And customers and the public at the next ANUGA in Cologne cannot wait.
The world’s sweet tooth is not a problem, but a challenge. Loacker’s solution touches all of the right flavour and texture notes.
LOACKER looks back on almost a century of producing only the most exquisite bakery products and chocolate confections. Founded as a confectionary and pastry shop in 1925 by master craftsman Alfons Loacker, the company transformed itself by introducing mass production techniques in 1958.
Its growth and expansion progressed at an optimal rate during Italy’s historic postwar reconstruction period and set a pace of innovation and constant growth. But whatever the production methods – by hand or by machine – one thing has stayed the same: LOACKER uses only the most pristine-quality natural ingredients available.
Nature makes LOACKER’s products, only its forms have changed. In 1967, LOACKER moved forward with the addition of its now-famous wafer snacks to its product spectrum. A new factory in the small Italian town of Unterinn followed in 1974, and was located at 1,000 m above sea level.
The company’s first major distribution centres, located throughout Northern Italy, were added in the years 1975-1980. In 1979, LOACKER brought its products to the international market.
Today, LOACKER produces over 60 products and more than 3,000 different sales items, all of them natural, delicious and with a unique taste. “Our motto is ‘bring in extraordinary ingredients and especially fantastic taste will come out,’” says Hans-Peter Dejakum, Marketing Director for LOACKER AG-SPA. “We believe in producing crispy, wholesome, natural products.”
LOACKER has remained a family-owned and operated company throughout its existence and its business operations currently involve the second and third generations of the LOACKER clan.
Armin Loacker heads production together with his sons, while his sister, Christine Loacker-Zuenelli and son Ulrich Zuenelli leads business operations. The company employs an additional 400 people from the surrounding community and posted revenues of 153 million EUR in 2008.
That same year, LOACKER produced 20,000 t worth of product, roughly 352 million individual pieces of the company’s revered baked goods and chocolate confections. Despite the economic crisis, LOACKER also foresees strong growth of 6% in 2009.
With 60% market share in the wafer market, LOACKER is easily the market leader in Italy, where the company’s products have long enjoyed high visibility and consumer trust. Wafers and wafer products comprise the largest share of the company’s product line, with 70% falling into the brand’s “Sandwich,” “Classic” and “Quadratini” varieties.
Chocolate wafers and fine biscuit specialities comprise 30% of that line. LOACKER also produces limited edition varieties of its products for special occasions throughout the year, including Christmas and Easter.
LOACKER’s greatest achievement lies in the way it has pioneered processes to refine all-natural ingredients in its three-shift, round-the-clock facilities in Unterinn. The company uses absolutely no preservatives and no colourings.
The process alone is what brings the natural flavours of the products’ ingredients to the foreground. “We finemill our inhouse roasted Italian hazelnuts to obtain that natural taste, and we use only natural vanilla pods from the Bourbon Islands,” Mr. Dejakum says.
Indeed, in many ways, LOACKER products are defined by what isn’t in them: no artificial aromas, no added fat in its chocolates, no citric acid, no fake vanilla whatsoever and no genetically modified raw ingredients of any kind.
Instead, customers can count on LOACKER to use only the highest-quality creams, the most oven-fresh, immediately packaged products, only the best Italian hazelnuts and pure fruit juices.
LOACKER’s products arrive in sealed, environmentally-friendly packaging materials. “We became internationally active very early on,” Mr. Dejakum says. Since 1979, the company has been selling its products worldwide on all continents. More than 50% of production volume is exported to more than 80 countries.
The Middle Eastern region represents half of the company’s export revenues, with Europe (excluding Italy) accounting for 12% of total exports. The other areas like Asia, Africa and the American continent do the rest.
Such a large international presence is crucial for a company. LOACKER also appears regularly at all major international food and candy trade shows and conferences, including ISM and Anuga in Germany, SIAL in Paris, Candyshow in the United States, and Foodex in Japan.
Even more important, consumers all over the world can count on LOACKER products living up to their name, whatever the location. The recipe for each product is the same, wherever it is produced, as is the company’s commitment to all-natural ingredients.
“We believe in constant innovation and continual development throughout all activities,” Mr. Dejakum says. LOACKER also has five company-run outlet sites located in the northern part of Italy.
The opening of the additional factory and the outlet facility in Heinfels – Austria, launches a combination of coffee shop and LOACKER company store called “LOACKER Moccaria”. A high-end lifestyle store that matches LOACKER products to coffee specialities, LOACKER Moccaria features modern ambiance, upscale atmosphere and an inviting lounging area.
As a natural outgrowth of the company’s commitment to quality, LOACKER has not gone without recognition for its successes. In 2003, the company took home the European Candy Kettle Award, and in 2007 it received the Sweets Global Award from the Sweets Global network, just to name two.
‘LOACKER Classic’, ‘LOACKER Quadratini’, ‘LOACKER Sandwich wafers’, ‘LOACKER Gran Pasticceria’ – the company’s products are highly visible and trusted brands within the marketplace and enjoy an almost limitless customer base, though they have gained special customer loyalty from families, single adults and couples.
LOACKER’s gift box segment also remains robust. The leaders at LOACKER foresee a strong future of continued growth for the company, one in which LOACKER products will remain number one in Italy while moving into the top three in its market in European grocery stores and food outlets.
For people who are hungry, the ultimate goal of a snack is to satisfy. But when an entire brand conjures a sense of trust, loyalty and wholesomeness that is as delicious as it is honest, satisfaction comes with the very first bite.
In this issue: Brouwerij Anders! NV – Pushing the boundaries of Belgian craft beer / Mozart Distillerie Gmbh – Your chocolate moment / Gloria Maris Groupe – Breeding healthy and high-quality fish / Caseificio Longo Srl – The artisan cheese company / Fromagerie Biologique de Vielsalm – Pure nature, pure taste
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