A world of starch

A world of starch

A small part of many people’s food ingredients list is big business for the Nuremberg company.

This is a company anniversary that does not happen so often: the Frank entrepreneurial family celebrated the 150th birthday of Ferdinand Kreutzer-Sabamühle GmbH with a ceremony in the historic town hall in Nuremberg. The company, based in Nuremberg, is a specialist dealer for food starch and, as the largest starch supplier in Germany, one of the hidden champions in the Nuremberg area.

Managing director Fabian Frank, fourth generation family entrepreneur, joined Sabamühle in 2007. The business economist proved himself in the field in Northern Germany before working in the company through several internal departments. In 2010 he moved on to the Sabamühle management board, then governed by his aunt Brigitte Kränzle, who later decided to pass all management duties on to the next generation. Frank, born in 1981, enlarged the company’s geographical market size and gradually expanded the range of customers services. Of central importance is the newly built 6,600 square meters warehouse, capable of stocking around 900 different products. Thanks to raw goods with a value of around five million euros, the specialist dealer Sabamühle takes on a buffer function for its customers: on the one hand, they increasingly expect just-in-time delivery exactly as required, but on the other hand, the producers rationalize their own business by increasingly offering raw goods exclusively in uniform and large quantities. Therefore, Sabamühle purchases large quantities from starch manufacturers in order to then sell smaller quantities to its customers on demand, depending on how much they need.

Altogether the company has availability of around 130 starch products made from potatoes, wheat, corn or rice. A large part is used in food production – for example in baked goods, dairy products, baby food or diet food. Starch is also found in high-energy fibres in sports nutrition. Starch-based sugar substances such as dextrose and polyols, so-called sugar substitutes, are mostly used for ice cream or confectionery. Industry has long since discovered the renewable raw material that is starch for itself, for example in the production of paper and corrugated cardboard, or more recently in tablets, cosmetics, textiles, animal feed, detergents or paints. Sabamühle also has availability of around 390 exquisite seeds, spices and spice mixtures. Some examples of these are anise, turmeric, cloves or saffron, which are available whole, crushed, grated or finely ground. Classic spice mixes for regional specialties such as gingerbread and sausages are also part of the Sabamühle repertoire. To this day, the recipe for Saba Spice No. 32 for classic Nuremberg-style gingerbread cakes (“Lebkuchen”), which the great-grandfather once put together himself, is kept in the company vault.

Goods were put together individually

The food industry can also look to Sabamühle for all its needs of raw materials such as liquid sugar, sweeteners, fibre, thickeners, caramels and milk powder products. In addition to conventionally produced raw materials, there are also organic products, pharmaceutical raw materials and phosphates in the Sabamühle range. The starch and spice company can pack goods together in one-ton “Big Bags” as well as in smaller packages. In addition, requested quantities of 5 to 1,400 kilograms are offered in canisters, barrels or containers via our own filling system – also by means of a deposit system. For example, this is ideal for orange juice or pineapple juice concentrate, caramel syrup, citric acid or coolers for beverage colourants.

In order to be independent of external logistics providers, the company’s own delivery fleet has grown to eleven trucks. They ensure individually coordinated delivery from Nuremberg and the second warehouse in the Lower Saxony municipality of Drage (Elbe). In this range of products and services, Frank sees the big difference compared to some competitors: in Germany and the neighbouring countries there is a crowding-out competition. In addition, according to the managing director, customers are increasingly aligning their supply chain with receiving goods just in time. In general, the development of Ferdinand Kreutzer-Sabamühle is impressive: in 2009 the company with 33 employees generated sales of almost EUR 20 million, last year 51 employees generated sales of EUR 32 million. Frank is forecasting a value of around EUR 35 million this year.

A New Energy Drink for the Consumer Market

In 2015, Frank launched the subsidiary brand “Guampa Energy” with his cousin and Marketing Director Christine Sparvoli-Frank. The energy drink in a green can is the first product in the company’s history that is intended for the consumer market. It is the first drink in the world that is sweetened exclusively with stevia. The sweetener obtained from the stevia plant is three hundred times sweeter than classic sugar, but has no influence on human blood sugar levels. “Guampa Energy” is marketed as an alternative to beverages with a high sugar content or also to those with reduced sugar, though relying on sweeteners of chemical origin. In this highly competitive market, the two cousins and business colleagues put a lot of effort into their Franconian energy drink, in order to make the product tasty for retailers – albeit with moderate success so far. Sparvoli-Frank wants to hold out a while longer. Although the order numbers are still unsatisfactory, some buyers see it as a promising product, she says. Because the market for stevia products shows great leaps in growth and given the long history of the company, the company has the necessary perseverance.

The foundation stone for today’s company was laid in 1869 by Eduard Kreutzer in Nuremberg, who traded in candy syrup, starch sugar and corn starch powder and named the company after his son Ferdinand. He and his grandson Georg earned the nickname “Glucose Kings” through their business activities. While the Kreutzer company developed successfully, Fabian Frank’s great-grandfather Fritz Frank founded Sabamühle GmbH in Nuremberg in 1933. The name is reminiscent of the Queen of Sheba from the Bible, who gave King Solomon valuable spices. At that time, Fritz Frank also belonged to the IHK Presidium which resigned in 1933 because of the National Socialist regime, but was re-elected after the Second World War. In 1979 both companies pooled their business and merged to form the current Ferdinand Kreutzer-Sabamühle.