Sustainable Recipes for Success from Schönebeck

SanaBio GmbH is attracting international demand thanks to its environmentally friendly production and services

Saxony-Anhalt is home to global players: this state in the center of Germany is where market leaders invest and where beacons for the economy shine out across the whole world. SanaBio GmbH is one such “Hidden Champion”: it has an international reach, believes in innovation and has become a world market leader in its sector. The company headquartered in Schönebeck produces plant-based raw materials and auxiliary agents for industry, all the while keeping environmental protection and sustainability in mind.

Running a successful but also sustainable business is an impressive balancing act. Wolfgang Schiller, Managing Director of SanaBio GmbH, sees this combination as one of the most important challenges for the future of business. He says: “We want to offer quality at reasonable prices while at the same time protecting the environment as much as possible.” Ever since its foundation in 2013, the Saxony-Anhalt-based company has followed this guiding principle, which has become firmly established over the years and become integrated into the company philosophy. The firm has specialized in natural products, setting it on a path to success. SanaBio GmbH is now no longer working alone, but is part of a corporate group with multiple branches in Germany and Europe.

In Schönebeck, near to the state capital Magdeburg, SanaBio produces and distributes plant-based and essential oils as well as auxiliary agents and additives for the cosmetic, food and pharmaceutical industries. It ensures that all its products are of superior organic quality. “It has never been more important to prioritize environmentally friendly production,” says Schiller. For him, quality and environmental protection begin with the rigorous selection of raw materials, and continue to play a role when it comes to the right containers, storage, processing methods and finally to regular quality control checks. “We have searched very carefully over many years for suppliers who, like us, have the highest quality standards for their products,” Schiller explains. This diligence is worthwhile and is part of the recipe that has made this once small company into a medium-sized Hidden Champion business in Saxony-Anhalt. In 2018, SanaBio was chosen as a Growth Champion by Focus Business magazine and the market research institute Statista GmbH. This title is awarded to companies in Germany that are growing the fastest comparatively.

Becoming a specialist for plant-based raw materials and auxiliary agents

SanaBio’s expertise is also in demand from the Senate of Economy for Germany and Europe – a renowned, nonpartisan and cross-sector council that boasts successful European businesses and figures among its members, who want to offer their knowledge and experience to political decision makers in particular. Those involved are aware of their social responsibility, their ideas and actions reach beyond national borders and markets and they are active on many different levels. SanaBio Managing Director Wolfgang Schiller has been a member of the association since 2019. “We saw this invitation as an acknowledgement of our company philosophy,” he says. “Ever since the beginning, we have been committed to the trinity of economic, ecological and social factors.”

For almost a decade, the Hidden Champion from Saxony-Anhalt has been making a name for itself in the industry as a manufacturer and distributor of high-quality plant-based oils, gluten-free plant and nut flour and essential oils. Key ingredients that have made SanaBio into a recipe for success include the fact that it has expanded its expertise in manufacturing and trade, becoming a specialist for plant-based raw materials and auxiliary agents, says Schiller. SanaBio products, such as the plant-based oils, flour, proteins, body peels and aromatic extracts, are made using exclusively vegan, gluten-free ingredients that are certified organic.

“Our central location in Germany is unbeatable.”

In addition to production, the company also focuses on services for many industrial sectors, offers support in purchasing raw materials, develops finished products, gives recommendations and provides initial prototypes as needed. Its products are distributed to all corners of the globe. The Saxony-Anhalt-based business has long been active on the international stage, but nevertheless maintains close ties with its headquarters in Germany. It supports local sports clubs and the volunteer fire service in Schönebeck. “It’s important to us to provide this support because this is where we started out and have grown,” says Schiller. He has no doubt that things will stay that way. SanaBio benefits hugely from its location. “We would have to search for these benefits anywhere else,” Schiller says. “Our central location in Germany is unbeatable, the transportation infrastructure is well developed, the support from local and regional authorities is perfect, the relevant officials are very well informed and outward looking, and the universities and research institutes are geared toward real-life practice.”

No waste – just recyclable materials

SanaBio continues to increase its commitment to environmental protection and sustainability at its site in Saxony-Anhalt. Schiller explains that they extract the absolute optimum from all raw materials: when oil is squeezed out or desired substances are extracted, the by-products are then used rather than simply thrown away. They use them to produce flour that is rich in protein, fiber and carbohydrates. What’s more, these press cakes will also be used to power parts of the new pellet heating system. “Our buildings are being renovated to make them energy efficient,” says Schiller. “We have created a unique and highly specific solution for our energy consumption and production and we also opt for low-energy solutions when it comes to automating our operations.” SanaBio also ensures that it produces no waste, but only recyclable materials. Schiller says: “We separate out the different materials and we either recycle them or compost them, thereby returning them to nature.” For a while now, the company has been working toward the important target of eliminating its carbon footprint by 2030. And it has its sights set on the future in other respects, too. Schiller summarizes SanaBio’s road map for getting there: “We are investing in innovation so that industry can make better use of processed plant-based raw materials. This means we can increase added value, remove shortages and create viable and modern plant-based alternatives to traditional raw materials and auxiliary agents without compromising the population’s food supply.”

Author: Manuela Bock/IMG Saxony-Anhalt

In many industries, they belong to the innovation drivers in Europe and they are regarded as the originators of Germany's export success. As small to medium-sized companies, they often bring their niche applications to the world market faster than large companies, mostly resulting from in-house research. This self-developed success is one of their secrets.

>> HERE is where Hidden Champions lead the market.