Behind the scenes: Läderach continues its global growth with US sites
Läderach is fast gaining a global confectionery foothold, including within the US, as its North American regional president Nathanael Hausmann explains to editor Neill Barston.
Meeting up with Läderach’s North American president Nathanael Hausmann at the State of the Industry event in Miami, his pure enthusiasm for the family-owned Swiss premium chocolate brand is especially notable.
As he asserts enthusiastically, the company’s rapid rise in the US a little over two years amid major investment in new stores, is fast propelling it to mainstream recognition and acceptance from a consumer base eager for new experiences. (see our exclusive video interview with Nathanael here).
It is with this in mind that the company takes a notable presence at the key Florida event, before its team explores this month’s Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago. “It’s great to be at an event in person after two years of Covid, and getting exposed to the chocolate industry – especially as we launched in the US only two and a half years ago. We’ve now grown to become one of the premium retailers here,” explains the young executive, who welcomes the chance to engage with some of the industry’s major players in the region, which is enjoying a considerable upturn.
Notably, all this comes despite a backdrop of supply chain complications as ingredients prices increase and logistics problems mount, the past two years of the pandemic have shown extremely welcome growth, both Stateside and other areas including Europe. Clearly, one prominent piece of the puzzle is the continuing rise of premium-brand product confectionery ranges, and the likes of Läderach have a prominent part to play in that story.
Is there a secret to that in Nathanael’s view? “Chocolate in general, and in particular premium and fine chocolate has a disproportionately strong growth at the moment, as was also the case during the pandemic. It’s great to see this, as it seems consumers are seeking high quality chocolate compared with general candies,” explains the New York-based regional president.
He shares just the same passion as the company’s equally youthful CEO, Johannes Läderach, who recently told Confectionery Production of his grandfather Rudolf’s vision for the business in the early 1970’s in his native Switzerland, which started with crafting distinctive truffles that soon became a firm fixture in the country
Store acquisitions boost
As for the present day, he considers that the acquisition of the Godiva stores is continuing to play a hugely influential role in driving interest in its brand, which comes as the US, as in many areas of the world is seeing retailing open up again after a long period of lockdown frustrations.
Furthermore, Nathanael highlights the pace of its US roll-out is particularly swift with 27 of its tally of 40 American stores achieving opening within six-months, amid a notably turbulent market. “What we’ve experienced is that people are looking for fresh premium products – and this is something that we’re a perfect match for with the high quality fresh chocolate that we produce exclusively in Switzerland and directly retail it in our own stores,” he explains, revealing its sites are now coast-to-coast from New York right across to California, as well as Canada, with sales for its new outlets reportedly outperforming their previous levels of attainment before the pandemic.
As Nathanael enthuses, being a family-owned enterprise, it remains particularly proud of its production methods, favouring a fully bean-to-bar approach, which centres on sustainable sourcing from working closely with selected farming communities.
Significantly, he says its ethos is one of making agricultural communities and individual farmers part of its ‘chocolate family.’
“With our expansion, I think there’s a very good combination of offering high quality artisan chocolate, and also as a family-owned business, to have the freedom to take a long-term perspective, which has played an important role in the past and
will do again for the future,” referencing its core emphasis on the ethical principles that remain at the heart of the business.
“We visit our farmers regularly to ensure the quality of our cacao, but also to make sure that they are paid a proper wage to
allow a good living, so they are paid around a third more than the average market price,” notes the region’s president.
Furthermore, he says sustainability is also a major consideration with regard to its energy supplies, with the majority of these sourced from renewable forms, as well as setting its stall out to source ingredients as locally as possible.
This includes sourcing Swiss honey and dairy supplies that help lend its fine series of chocolate some added finesse and distinctive flavours that customers are now enjoying around the world.
As for his own journey into the industry, he says that while he’s comfortable living in the US and the pace of city life in New York, he is especially proud of his roots. “I was born and raised in Switzerland, which has the highest per capita chocolate consumption in the world, so it was part of my life as long as I can remember, and by the age of 14, I was already working at a chocolate production facility, and was able to understand how much work goes into making fresh artisanal chocolates.”
As he explains, after his apprenticeships and further studies, he went on to gain a position managing the company’s European B2B operations of Läderach, including its exports that would lead to his present role, which is proving extremely rewarding. While the scale of the challenge continues to be grand, it’s something Nathanael seems completely at ease with.
“It’s been so exciting leading this expansion and I love to work for company that creates an environment for such growth with the pace of expanding a new market, especially doing that with like-minded people who share the same courage and motivation in selling what I believe is the best fresh chocolate there is,” notes the president as the company continues on its remarkable confectionery rise.