Exclusive: World Confectionery Conference: Behind the scenes at Krüger & Salecker

With ambitious expansion plans in the US and fresh equipment innovations, the German-founded Krüger & Salecker group is on a roll ahead of its World Confectionery Conference appearance this autumn. Editor Neill Barston reports

Taking over an established company with over 70 years of engineering heritage behind it was no small achievement for German- based entrepreneur Soren Bettex (main image, and below, speaking at our World Confectionery Conference in 2022). But it’s absolutely something he has thrived on, joining his cousin in seeking to inject some fresh impetus into Krüger & Salecker’s manufacturing operations.

Indeed, in just a few short years, the close-knit team at its core has seen the company located near Hamburg, expand globally, with its specialist forming machinery across the food and pharma sectors, including within confectionery. Its major areas of specialism span moulding lines for pastes, proteins and marzipan, lines for pourable ingredients, cereal bars and advanced gummies and jellies machinery, which are all proving growing areas of key growth within international markets.

Underlining its ambition, the business is also just about to open a US-based subsidiary, as it seeks to expand its horizons, having undergone a comprehensive brand redesign that has seen it seek to make a key impact on a global stage.

“It’s been a very busy time, but everything is running well,” explains Soren of what has proved a whirlwind start to 2024, refreshing its overall image, making appearances at key sector events and enhancing its flagship equipment.
There’s also the small matter of returning to be part of the World Confectionery Conference, as it makes its way back to Brussels, placing wider industry sustainability and innovation in the spotlight on 12 September. (Register for this year’s event at our dedicated website, (confectioneryconference.com)

With keynotes set, including the likes of Ferrero, Cargill, Tony’s Chocolonely, Caobisco, as well as vital insights from Mintel and FMCG Gurus, it’s shaping up to prove a memorable experience offering a key celebration for Confectionery Production’s 90th anniversary in publishing. The line-up has now been further augmented by ingredients specialists, Palsgaard, pioneering vegan business, Plamil Foods, DTG Ltd equipment, and ZDS, the German Central School of Confectionery.

There’s also its key annual World Confectionery Awards being presented across six categories this year, including a newly introduced emerging enterprise category, further seeking to spotlight innovation in the sector. Attendees for the show in Belgium will also have the chance, courtesy of the UK’s Academy of Chocolate, to enjoy a special chocolate tasting experience in Brussels on 13 September to complete the experience.

“I am really looking forward to being at the World Confectionery Conference, which I think was the first time you’d done this live when we were there two years ago having not long taken over our company back in 2020.

“So, it was great to be there, with a very interesting audience, and it was focused on sustainability, which seems to have a lot to do with chocolate as well as cocoa, which is an area that we’re not as a business intensely involved in, but I liked the event and city, and we’ve decided to come back this year,” explains Kruger’s general sales manager and co-CEO regarding his upcoming appearance at the event.

Indeed, the company will certainly have plenty to talk about, reflecting on the company’s evolution over the past five years under his leadership. As anyone whose caught our coverage during this time will continue to observe, it’s a period of immense change and evolution within the sector. The march of technology in terms of advancements in equipment, AI-enhanced robotics systems alone are proving pivotal to shaping the future of the industry, which will certainly be among themes for the event this September.

For its part, Krüger & Salecker, will, among other topics, be talking about its pathway into the market, which as its managing director reveals, is continuing to offer some positive challenges in showcasing to the world precisely what it can offer.
But as the engaging entrepreneur, who started out his career as an automotive mechanic, notes, there’s a lot of encouraging progress being made.

As its general sales manager explains, the business which originally started up in a challenging post Second World War late 1940s, originally focused on kitchenware manufacturing. Then, over time, its activities gradually expanded into producing machines targeting confectionery and other food-related markets.

Company development
Evolving its offerings over time to meet industry demands, its enhanced portfolio now features moulding machines, extruders, dosing systems, through to pick and place robotics for mid and large-sized manufacturing companies. So, as Soren notes, together with his cousin Tammo, who is responsible for the engineering side of the business as its production manager, they’ve formed a strong working partnership in steering the company forward on an international basis.
Today, the company, which has its base in Bad Schwartau, is a hive of activity, with nearly 50 employees across the firm, which is continuing to grow despite ongoing supply chain disruption occurring across wider manufacturing markets.

As Confectionery Production has identified in recent reports, confectionery, snacks and bakery segments remain comparatively buoyant in many territories around the world, in spite of inflationary pressures.
“We have had quite a job to do with the relaunch of our brand, looking at the logo, and corporate identity, but also the philosophy behind what we do, which was a pretty long journey to be honest, which took us nearly two years to capture the core of the company, and how we describe it, which is what we have done in terms of the visible parts of the business.

“Krüger and Salecker isn’t originally from the confectionery industry in being a specialist moulding business – but we are experts at bringing products and masses into shapes.

“We are in other industries beyond confectionery, such as pharma, chemicals as well as transportation, so our core business is always taking something from an undefined shape into the precise shape that you require.

“All technologies are built around three areas including dough-based recipes into the perfect shape, which is where our history started with the original Krüger & Salecker started out with Marzipan 75 years ago. We’re close to Lubek, which is the main capital for that product in Germany, perhaps in the world with some big players,” enthuses the company’s MD, says that its activities are continuing to expand into other areas including lines processing fruit pastes, as well as well as chemicals for the non-food market.

Breakthrough machinery
Notably, one of its key breakthroughs for the confectionery sector on the machinery front in the form of the FFW machinery series targeting the global gummy market. Gaining its debut at the hugely eventful Interpack event in Germany last summer, Soren notes that this was an especially decisive in offering such a multinational platform for the company’s approach to machinery innovation.

As the business reveals, the new line has a standard working width of 400mm, offering output capability of between 250 to 400 kg/hr. It features few moving parts, making cleanability levels notably high. This also means that the risk of cross contamination can also be kept to a minimum in terms of hygiene management. “The exciting thing about this latest FFW line is that we are not working with a high speed in terms of high volume in a short time, but the main difference and advantage is that it operates with steep temperature drops, from moulding (at 85 degrees Celsius) to de-moulding at 46 degrees in only 12 seconds.

“This means for dietary supplements and active ingredients that you have your temperature-sensitive ingredient is only in contact with temperatures of 80 degrees for a short time, and therefore cooling down quickly.

“There are other interesting aspects of the technology including that it has a very small footprint, it’s very easy to clean – there are only four parts that are in contact with the product, which is an important thing to avoid cross contamination, with cleaning time being less than half an hour,” reveals Soren, who says the initial feedback from the market is proving especially positive.

So much so, that its first systems are anticipated to be being delivered within the US and Europe later this year, with additional leads in the pipeline. As the sales manager notes, its forays into other areas of technology including devising its own robotics-based pick and place system is another area of focus, with automated lines becoming of critical importance within the wider sector.

Personal pride
Clearly, development of such innovations is continuing to boost the company’s profile within the industry, leading to a continued pattern of growth. This is reflected in what its MD describes as a healthy order book for the business.
Moreover, he says that taking on the reins of the firm may have been an especially large challenge in terms of navigating the Covid-19 pandemic, and market instability arising from geopolitical factors including the ongoing war in Ukraine, but he is nonetheless finding leading the company especially rewarding.

“I have enjoyed it very much as it seems like it is exactly what I have been preparing for in the past 25 years of my career. I’m dependent on my team of extremely good experts on the right positions, and I have the strategic knowledge on how to recognise trends and break down complex patterns into more simple ones which has been fun and I hope that the team enjoys it too most of the time, so things are good.”

  • Catch the extended version of this feature in our latest edition of Confectionery Production. Registration for this year’s World Confectionery Conference in Brussels, Belgium on September 12, continues at confectioneryconference.com

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