The history of Edelweiss

In 1892, the Edelweiss company was founded as a small, regional cheese dairy making just one innovative product. Since then, the Camembert producer has developed into the flagship factory of a global company that today manufactures three important brands in Kempten. Key to this transformation were the entrepreneurial foresight of our founder and his successors, the value they placed on the Edelweiss brand – which is as old as the company itself – and their commitment to a socially responsible company culture. These values remain embedded at Edelweiss to this day.

1892 – 1940
The founding generation of Edelweiss

After learning the fundamentals of Camembert production in Paris, Edelweiss’s founder Karl Hoefelmayr returned to Kempten in 1892 and established his factory: the Edelweiss Camembert Fabrik K. Hoefelmayr. He produced the company’s first Camembert in Albrechts near Günzach and already registered the Edelweiss name and logo in 1893. In 1894, the production was moved to Kempten, where it still stands today. Shortly afterwards, Edelweiss began exporting its first varieties of Camembert in individual boxes to countries all around the world. By 1914, Edelweiss had over 200 employees. During this period, the company expanded its range with lactose and powdered milk products, modernised its factory and built a number of facilities for its workers, including a canteen, baths and a residential building.

1940 – 1961
The second generation at Edelweiss

After Karl Hoefelmayr died in 1940, his sons Karl and Hanns Hoefelmayr took over leadership of the company, which continued to expand over the following years. Technological refurbishment enabled the production of a wide range of dairy products, increasing the company’s revenue tenfold. From 1948 onwards, the company became known as Edelweiss-Milchwerke K. Hoefelmayr and operated factories in both Kempten and Schlachters in the Lindau district. The 100 g Brie triangle was introduced in 1952, with production volumes soon reaching up to 2,000 tonnes annually.

1962 – 2002
Edelweiss and Unilever

Unilever acquired Edelweiss-Milchwerke K. Hoefelmayr in 1962. Over the following years, Unilever’s German subsidiary Union Deutsche Lebensmittelwerke GmbH expanded the company’s buildings and facilities. New technologies enabled Edelweiss to develop innovative products and explore new market segments. The company created extensive brand and product ranges. In particular, this period was shaped by the introduction of several new brands and products: Ramee Camembert in 1962; a whipped fresh cheese with the brand name Bressot (now Bresso) in 1976; and the 200 g Milkana tubs in 1977. Brunch cream cheese spread joined these products on the market in 1995. In 2000, the production of Unilever’s processed cheese products was centralised with the construction of a dedicated factory in Kempten. The implementation of TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) in 1996 marks a huge efficiency milestone for the company. Over the following years, Edelweiss received multiple awards for successfully introducing TPM.

2003 – 2020
Edelweiss and Bongrain/SAVENCIA Fromage & Dairy

The 2003 integration of Edelweiss into the Bongrain family business group heralded a return to the company’s roots: the production of high-quality speciality cheeses. As the group’s most advanced processed cheese factory worldwide, Edelweiss took on a leading role in the research and development of new products and technologies. In 2008, the managing directors of Edelweiss demonstrated their social responsibility by founding the charitable association Gegen Noma-Parmed e.V. In addition to this, Milkana processed cheese has been GMO-free since 2013. After rebranding in 2015, Bongrain SA became known as Groupe SAVENCIA. In 2017, Edelweiss and all its employees celebrated the company’s 125-year anniversary.

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