Haus Rabenhorst: a traditional business as the model for success

During their time at the Carl Duisberg Centren in autumn 2016, the pilot group from the Ukrainian food industry visited a traditional German business active in the fruit juice industry. Established more than 200 years ago, Haus Rabenhorst is renowned for its organic juices.

Production manager Egon Roos showed the guests around the production facility and explained everything from bottling of the juices to cleaning and storage of the bottles, emphasising all the while the importance of sustainability, naturalness and quality. The tour also included a visit to the historic cellar in which the juices are stored in large vats. At the end of the vaulted cellar is an old mosaic depicting the history of the family-run business. It shows establishment of a winery by Johann-Heinrich Lauffs in Oberwinter, relocation of the business to “Haus Rabenhorst” in Unkel and launch of the first “alcohol-free wine” developed by Alexander Lauffs, which is today known as “red grape juice”. The mosaic is a good reflection of the company’s awareness of tradition. The Ukrainian participants were very interested to learn that there are a lot of family-run businesses in Germany with such a lengthy history. Several participants, who themselves run family businesses, asked about the challenges and how niches can be identified time and time again in the competitive juices market.

Rabenhorst is one of the few companies that has managed to unite time-honoured values and traditions with the new, technological, fast-paced world. Thus consumers above all associate Rabenhorst with the classic Rotbäckchen juice that still forms part of the company’s product range today. However, recognising trends early on and incorporating these into the company philosophy is an important task of the R&D department, too. Hence Rabenhorst continues to develop its Rotbäckchen juice further: today there are also Rotbäckchen juices to help strengthen the immune system (“Immunstark”) as well as to aid concentration (“Lernstark”), for example. Trends such as detoxes and smoothies are also tapped into, with around ten new products introduced onto the market every year.

Rabenhorst also updates its marketing strategies every year. Beside classic radio advertising with the slogan “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the right Rotbäckchen juice”, the company is also present on social platforms and in print media. Rabenhorst is moreover attempting to access new customer segments through women’s magazines and so-called health magazines. The fact that a family-run business selling organic juices which are primarily distributed through health food shops and drugstores, can be so successful fascinated the Ukrainian managers. Ivan Dushkevych, who manufactures birch juice in Ukraine, has realised that companies need to adapt continuously to the needs of the market and trends in the food industry. In fact, all participants – regardless of whether they are active in the beverage industry or not – will take ideas home with them from the need for innovation and more stringent market analyses, and acknowledged the importance of tradition.

By Mareike Dröge Carl Duisberg Centres, Cologne