PINK, SWEET, AND LOVELY

Manner − Vienna, Austria

Manner, the Austrian confectionery manufacturer, is as much a part of Vienna as the majestic St. Stephen’s Cathedral or the carriages that take one back to the time of the Empress Sisi. The traditional company combines tried-and-trusted procedures with the latest production technologies and has progressed to the status of a cult brand. Manner is now looking forward to a bright future together with Bühler and Haas.

The wafer oven bakes and presses the wafer dough and moves it into the production cycle in the 17th district of Vienna. It is the largest of its type in the world, with a daily capacity of 49 tons. It was commissioned in 2004 and is the centerpiece of the Manner plant. With the precision of a Swiss watch factory, the wafer bases are covered with a soft hazelnut cocoa cream and then stacked just a few seconds after baking; the five-layer original wafers then go flying into the packing plant – in the same format and with the same recipe as when they first made the scene in 1898. At that time founder Josef Manner came up with the sweet pastry backed by the philosophy that has characterized the company since its start in 1890: “Chocolate for everyone – good and affordable!” With the growing population, the number of fans with an appetite for these snacks with the unmistakable pink package has also grown.

The claim “People just like Manner” still holds true: today, two packs of the wafer treats with the well-known blue Manner logo are eaten per second, leading to an annual consumption of over 63 million packs. The range includes numerous other classical products – from chocolate-banana to “Dekorhippen”, “Knusper Müsli”, and “Mozartkugeln.”

Manner is a serious heavyweight in the confectionery sector. And these quantities demand the corresponding infrastructure. “We have invested EUR 40 million in the Vienna site, among other things, in order to implement vertical production in the urban area,” says Thomas Gratzer, Director of Production and Technology at Manner.

He is proud of the modern production plant, and well aware of how vital it is to be able to rely on trouble-free processes in this highly competitive sector. “We are fortunate to have Bühler and Haas, two partners that have been supporting us for generations now and who share our values as family businesses.”

Manner Schnitte perfect for coproduction

It is this 10-year partnership and the successful cooperation that encourages trained confectioners to take an optimistic view of the future after the takeover of Haas by Bühler. “Of course, we were surprised at the start. However, after the initial meetings it was clear that the cooperation would not change and that we would continue the relationship that we value so highly.”

In practice, the Manner Schnitte stands out as the ideal coproduction between Haas and Bühler. Haas has been manufacturing wafer machines for the traditional Vienna company since the 1950s, while the consumer food sector has been supplying chocolate equipment from Bühler for more than 40 years. Nermin Alagic, Sales Manager at Bühler, likewise sees nothing but advantages in the new Bühler-Haas team. “There will be fewer interfaces for the customer in the future. This means shorter communication channels, quicker service, and a bigger network thanks to the Bühler sales, service, and production sites in over 140 countries. Furthermore, now that Haas is on board, Bühler has an impressive range of specialist knowledge about confectionery production. We are able to pass on the resultant synergies directly to customers such as Manner.” The substantial experience in the cocoa business plays an important part in Manner’s impressive production volumes.

Approximately 7,000 tons of cocoa beans are processed in the main plant in Vienna every year. Manner produces 10,000 tons of chocolate and chocolate coating with the semifinished cocoa mass and cocoa butter at the Wolkersdorf suburb of Vienna.

Together with a workforce of approximately 250 people, Christoph Hirschbüchler of Manner manages the smooth production process just a stone’s throw from the capital. “Of course, with the quantities we process here a high level of machine availability is the top priority. Bühler has been ensuring this for us for decades, and so they have become an important member of the continuously growing Manner family.”

Manner and Vienna: through thick and thin

The overall package offered to customers by Bühler with Haas is also a convincing argument for Erich Walzer, Area Sales Manager at Haas. “Bühler is now in a position to support its customers along the whole value chain, from provision of raw materials to the end product.” As a long-term supporter of Manner, he is more aware than anyone of its importance in the region and beyond.

The deep-rootedness is highlighted by an unfortunate but inspiring anecdote. In October 2014 part of the factory collapsed during construction. Fortunately, no one was hurt. However, as Christmas was rapidly approaching the accident couldn’t possibly have occurred at a more unfortunate moment. All hands were mobilized, and the staff worked extra shifts at the plant in Perg, Upper Austria, to meet the demand for confectionery in all its conceivable variations successfully. Undeterred, Manner continued its course and invested a total of EUR 40 million in the Vienna site to secure jobs in the city, modernize production, and make the plant operations more sustainable.

Baking wafers and heating homes

Erich Walzer remembers that time in autumn 2014 very well: “The reaction from the press and the public following the collapse proves that Manner is much more than a production plant in Vienna. It is a deeply rooted family business which has stood out with its social commitment for over 100 years and which is actively committed to sustainability.” Thomas Gratzer cares deeply about sustainability. “In a globalized world sustainability is not a matter of price but of innovative capacity. In Vienna our solution to this has been, for example, that with our conversion and the vertical production we have placed all ovens on one floor, which means we are in a position to heat 600 homes in Vienna.”

Also, over 70% of cocoa used by Manner comes from sustainable production. The aim is to cover the entire requirement for brand products with cocoa from sustainable production by 2020. In the case of palm oil – one of the most important ingredients – Manner likewise makes sure that people can enjoy their snacks with a good conscience. Since the second half of 2011 the company has only purchased sussegregated palm oil that comes from certified plantations and can be physically traced. But Manner has also been active much closer to home, on their own doorstep: Anyone who takes a tour around St. Stephen’s Cathedral and is surprised to see a man in a pink uniform has probably encountered Manner-sponsored stonemason Christoph Getzner, who works to maintain the cathedral.

The future looks bright

The confectionery market is and remains agile by nature. Consumer demands are always changing, and the trick is to identify the demand at an early stage and to supply the corresponding products. At Manner people are aware of this challenge, and they meet it with a healthy degree of optimism. For Thomas Gratzer this comes primarily from the common values of the family businesses Manner, Bühler, and Haas with regard to the workforce: “You can now buy machines anywhere in the world, you can acquire raw materials around the world, and the processes are more or less the same – the one thing that makes the difference is the people.”

As long as the people behind the Manner products continue to work with such dedication and innovation, we can look forward to lovely confectionery in the future from this capital city known for its refined taste.

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