We use cookies in order to be able to offer you a better online experience. By using our website, you agree that we may place cookies on your device. Data Protection Declaration hide hint

Years of working together: Thuringian cheese specialists Ziegler and Nagel-Group

Passionate about cheese

The Ziegler family is all about cheese-making, and always tries to meet individual customer needs. The Nagel-Group has been its logistics partner from the outset.

Nino Ziegler, owner and Managing Director of cheese specialists Ziegler.

Pick up a cheese sandwich at the petrol station – simple. But the process behind it – no way. Where does the cheese used in the food processing industry, or in catering outlets, come from? “Our core business is built on three pillars: industry, food retailers and catering, as well as supplying the community. One of our roles is as the chief supplier for a major vendor. Which means that almost every cheese sandwich in Germany sold in petrol stations or motorway services stations, has our cheese in it,” says Nino Ziegler. Since 1999 he has been the owner and managing director of Ziegler Käsespezialitäten GmbH.

His father founded the company more than 20 years ago. Their eventful story began as wholesalers for delicatessens and restaurants. In 1996 the family decided to slice cheese for the industry, and this formed their new core business. Customers from catering services, community suppliers and, from 2007, major retail chains in the food retail sector led to a growth in their customer base. In 2010 Ziegler sold the wholesale division to concentrate on the strong growth in cheese production.

Family firm’s production supplies not only the German market

Today 50 employees work a two-shift system in the Thüringen town of Wutha-Farnroda. 4,500 to 5,000 tonnes of semi-hard and hard sliced cheese are processed annually. “Probably no-one would actually recognise our name, as we don’t appear on any packaging,” says Ziegler. But their products are everywhere: in top-rated restaurants, in sandwiches, hamburgers, hot-dogs and salads. Cheese with its own label appears quite rarely in a supermarket, as a speciality. At the end of 2017, an online shop is to be set up to build more direct contact with customers.

The family firm’s production supplies not only the German market, but all neighbouring countries. Through agencies, they also supply Scandinavia, Spain, Hungary and soon even South Africa. Every region has its own taste criteria, however. “Just a glance at the map of Germany shows how different tastes can be: a mountain cheese with a strong flavour is sold almost exclusively in southern Germany, a caraway seed cheese only in the north, and smoked Gouda is a typically eastern product. Only the classic cheeses – Gouda, Edam, Tilsit, semi-soft “butter cheese” and Emmental – are in demand everywhere,” says Nino Ziegler.

For many of these differing requirements, Ziegler does not produce them himself, but builds on close cooperation with dairies: “We do have our own recipes which we pass on to dairies, but our speciality is in our special slicing and dicing.” In order to improve this competency continuously, processes in onward processing are closely observed. Handling of individual products must be optimum. For the catering trade, for instance, Ziegler has established a particular degree of maturity to minimise the slices sticking together. This and other requests can be made online by customers via the company’s “cheese configurator”.

The Ziegler firm processes 4,000 to 5,000 tonnes of semi-hard and hard sliced cheese per year.

Market trends: there is an increasing focus on health

Digitisation and the development of an industry 4.0 standard have also not passed Ziegler Käsespezialitäten GmbH by. In terms of technology and structure, various measures are being implemented: the sales channels are being digitised, video tutorials for consumers attractively present user instructions and information about allergens and lactose are easily accessible online. “It’s only a slice of cheese that I can’t digitise!,” jokes Ziegler.

One further trend: there is an increasing focus on health. Awareness of nutrition has changed greatly over the past few years, and non-animal products are increasingly in demand. Ziegler focuses on natural products which meet the highest quality standards, and this is confirmed not least via the packaging. The overall concept is designed to be harmonious, and to convince consumers and customers in the industry, in food retail and catering. Innovations and new products ideas prove this development. Healthy snacks, such as a traditional dried cheese without additives, look likely to be very popular when they are launched on the market in January 2017.

"The Nagel-Group offers competency and a range of services"

With ever-greater quantities, Ziegler’s storage capacities are reaching their limits. “We want to use our store in the traditional way, simply as a raw materials store for direct production, and handle all the finished products through the Nagel branch in Gotha. We are already covering the whole food retail sector with this, and in future will also get Nagel to look after the online shop for us,” says Ziegler. “For me, logistics is not our core business, other people do it better. Outsourcing is the point. And I hand it over to the best available in my region.”

The Nagel-Group has been in partnership with Ziegler since the start of cheese production. In 2010 the partnership was intensified, and the cheese specialists now handle all self-commissioned logistics services through Nagel Gotha. “Above all, we appreciate their personal and human contact, and geographical proximity. The Nagel-Group offers competency and a range of services which we use in our problem- solving. Over the past few years, there has never been a problem which we couldn’t solve in cooperation”, says Ziegler.

The two companies are only about 20 minutes’ drive from each other. Dealings are always very personal, and our employees know one another. High quality standards are important to all of us. “I’m sure we are not Nagel’s biggest customer, but we are perceived as a very important customer, and that’s how we are treated,” says Ziegler. He has to trust his partner, as trends in the industry require very quick reactions: “The market is so fast-moving, that what I say today might be wrong tomorrow. We have to get around that, and this is the challenge for the future.”

Recommended by the editors