February 16, 2013

Sweets and chocolates from Germany

Last Thursday was "Valentinstag" (Valentine's Day). However I am not here today to talk about love but to talk about one of this day's most popular giftscandies and chocolate. 

Candy and chocolate section @ Galeria Kaufhof
Confectionery is a big business here in Germany (not only on the 14th of February) and I was not aware of it until I read that the Bundeskartellamt (the German government agency against unfair competition) had imposed a 60m fine on eleven confectionery manufacturers in Germany because of colluding in fixing/increasing the prices. (original press release in English).

Since then I have read a lot about this "Chocolate cartel" and although I do not approve (please note that most of the following companies were not involved) the topic raised my curiosity and led me to investigate further about the German manufacturers of chocolate and candies. 

Why should you be interested? Two reasons:

  1. Where do you think the best chocolate in the world comes from? I have always thought that it was Swiss or Belgian. And what about the best candy? my first feeling was to say the US and the UK... and they are maybe... I do not know... what I know is that no matter how good these countries do, Germany is also a world relevant (although silent and unknown) player when it comes to confectionaries.
  2. But also because I believe chocolate is the best gift ever. I get a lot of emails asking about: what can I buy as a souvenir from Munich/Germany? Well, there is a lot of crap out there that you can buy with the name "Munich" on it, but if I were to be the recipient of those souvenirs... I'd rather get a box with a note saying: "chocolates (or candies) from Germany":) ...wouldn't you?...
Munich souvenirs
According to the ICCO (International Cocoa Organisation): 4.3 million tonnes of cocoa are produced annually and over 40% of this production is grind in Europe, where Germany alone does close to 30% of the grinding process. And we do not only grind the cocoa:  we eat it!: Europe is the largest consumer of chocolate in the world and Germany is the greediest within the region.

We, Europeans, eat more chocolate than anyone else in the world, but the most eaten chocolates are American (or at least the brands are own by American companies). The world sales leaders are: Mars Inc (with m&m, Snickers, Mars and Twix); followed by Mondelez International (with brands like Oreo, Chips Ahoy, Cadbury, Milka and Toblerone). 

But back to Germany and according to Candy Industry: there are 12 German companies in the 100 ranking of the largest confectionary manufacturers in the world.  (The following numbers in brackets refer to the company's position in the ranking).

Do you want to know what to buy as souvenir from Germany? Keep reading:

Let's start with the "Gummibärchen" (Gummy bears). 

Do you know HARIBO (8)?... You do if you live in Germany and you will when you move here.


HARIBO @ Galeria Kaufhof
HARIBO is one of leading candy manufacturers in the world. I first learnt about them when a friend preferred to buy a HARIBO bag of candies than popcorn at the movies in a cinema in Berlin: "they are not only sugar, you know? they also have vitamins!" so she said... and it was true.


Screen shot of HARIBO online brochure
All German supermarkets sell the HARIBO range and if you usually watch TV you may have seen their commercial with a popular German TV entertainer named Thomas Gottschalk and of course you may have heard their song "Haribo macht Kinder froh und Erwachsene ebenso" (HARIBO makes children and adults happy).
(They do not pay me, it is just that I love HARIBO!)

Then you have Storck (10) with Werther's Original ("weil du etwas Besonderes bist" because you are something special), the chocolates Merci and the Nimm2 gummy candies. 

There is also Stollwerck (34) with my favourite chocolate bar in the whole world: Schwarze Herren Schokolade, although they also have other products and brands of course... 


Merci and Werther's Originals @ Galeria Kaufhof

Katjes (36) is Dutch for "little cat" and  this is a world successful German manufacturer of fruit gum and liquorices that you should not ignore. 

Lambertz(37) has been around since 1688 when it was funded in the city of Aachen, well known these days by its University. Lambertz owns the brand Weiss which I know very well because they sell Lebkuchen: a traditional German biscuit/sort of cake (similar to gingerbread) that Germans eat at Christmas and at Easter. If you have the chance: buy a packet to send to your family back at home! It is very German and it will cost you under €3. 

Then we come to Bahlsen (41), owner of the brand Leibniz (cookies) and Pickup (snacks) that you will learn to love: "wir versüssen das Leben" (we sweeten the life) and they have, at least mine...


Bahlsen @ Galeria Kaufhof

Mederer is the next one in the ranking (43). In 1948 Willi Mederer started his company by producing and selling nuts. Today is one of the world confectionery leaders and its brand Trolli is a direct competitor to HARIBO. 


Ritter Sport @ Galeria Kaufhof
Ritter Sport (54) is another of my favorites! A family business that started when Alfred and Clara (over 100 years ago) decided to dedicate their lives to make chocolate and this today means a square chocolate bar that comes in many flavours/mixes. 


Screen shot of Ritter Sport global website
And finally we have: Rübezahl Schokoladen (65), which I buy because of their Santa chocolate figures, Wawi Group (69), Rausch Schokoladen (75) and Ragolds (98).

These are a lot of brand names that you do not need to remember. They will (unfortunately) all be familiar to you once you have lived here long enough... But in the meantime: this blog entry should only serve as a suggestion to avoid lame souvenirs from Germany: ignore the shirts, the caps and the scarfs... just buy candy and chocolate from Germany, these guys do know how to make it!

What other souvenirs do you recommend to your friends and family?

I hope you had a great Carnival and a great Valentine's Day.

Related posts:
Pancake Day, Mardi Gras and Fasching Dienstag
Germany knows good food
Five tips to become a Munich local

4 comments:

  1. Well I have to say I am as surprise as you are in the sense of Germany being such a high consumer of Chocolate...never even picked my brain around it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :) and this is just the beginning creepo, once you move here, you will get surprised everyday by this culture and country... :)
      Have a great day,
      E

      Delete
  2. I like your artcle and Sweets as well :) And we Germans love to come to know to new imported Sweets (as well as other Food).
    Coming from Germany and thus having the little policewoman in me ;) I have two remarks:
    1) It is Lambertz ans not Lamberts (Z and not S)
    2) The Haribo-Slogan is "..Kinder froh und Erwachsene ebenso" (no comma, don't forget the "und")
    Hope you Keep enjoying forign Sweets,
    A

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you A, checked and corrected!
      Have day!
      E

      Delete