Comprehensive food expertise combined with innovation and sustainability – around 182 companies in the food industry in Saxony-Anhalt are constantly coming up with new ideas
Sweet, sweeter, Saxony-Anhalt. The region of Saxony-Anhalt exports a wide range of sweet treats, including chocolate, marzipan, candies and tree cake. But the special ingredient of the original Halloren cake is half a teaspoon of evaporated salt from Halle. This festive cake was baked by the salt workers’ wives and was originally made from just simple ingredients. But over the years, butter, honey, cinnamon and almonds were added to the dough and the cake became popular with middle-class families too. The cake was decorated with gilded cloves and presented as a Christmas gift to the “Salzgraf” (the overseer of the salt works).
The food industry with its long creative tradition has for many years been the highest-earning manufacturing sector in Saxony-Anhalt. In 2021, almost 25,000 employees generated a revenue of more than 7.8 billion euros.
The companies, the majority of which are small or medium-sized, produce and process sustainable products, making efficient use of resources and using effective circular systems. The food industry in central Germany is currently confronted with major challenges. According to the Dresden declaration, which was issued by this year's central German food industry summit, the causes of this are many and varied. Many companies in the industry are facing exorbitant increases in raw material prices, a deterioration in the situation on the transport market as a result of huge cost rises, the ongoing shortage of skilled and other workers and the inability to plan for energy costs.
One of the major advantages for the food industry in Saxony-Anhalt is the region's extensive expertise in the field of food research. Innovative approaches in areas ranging from basic research through to industry-ready products are driving the sustainable development of the food industry. For example, the focus at Anhalt University of Applied Sciences in Köthen is on the food of tomorrow. The university is establishing the Interdisciplinary Research Center for Sustainable Food Production (InFonaL), which will be completed by 2027. The new center will enable basic research to be networked more effectively with applied and transfer-oriented developments and will allow innovations to be turned into industry-ready solutions.
The "Meals of the future – superfoods from Saxony-Anhalt" project, which is based in Halle (Saale), is also focusing on healthy food from sustainable agriculture. With the support of farms and the cooperation of Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, new crop varieties are being grown, old varieties rediscovered and innovative cultivation systems developed to safeguard the supply of healthy food in times of climate change. The project involves cultivating superfood plants such as quinoa and amaranth. These species come from Latin America and are particularly resistant to the effects of drought and therefore also to climate change.
The food industry of Saxony-Anhalt is also benefiting from the presence of a large number of new companies, which are cultivating samphire, producing 100% natural fruit snacks and superfoods, and developing healthy water-based drinks. The food start-up scene in Saxony-Anhalt is highly creative. Samphire or sea asparagus is not normally found far from the sea in Saxony-Anhalt, but in 2020 Julian Engelmann and Ken Dohrmann set up the first samphire farm in Germany in the town of Burg near Magdeburg.
Why add sugar, preservatives and colorings to ripe fruit when a 100% natural product tastes much better? This was the question that Irina Zaytseva and Heiko Gothe from Halle asked themselves in 2017 when they founded NutriPur. The 100% natural freeze-dried fruits, smoothie bowls, smoothie powder and chickpea snacks produced by the company are simple and quick solutions when it comes to eating a balanced diet.