PARTNER PORTRAIT Maestrani – Magic and Sustainability

Maestrani Schweizer Schokoladen AG has stood for high-quality chocolate for 160 years. Based in Flawil, St Gallen, Maestrani employs ca. 150 employees who produce an average of 3,500 tonnes of chocolate per year. Maestrani was one of the first Swiss chocolate companies to produce organic and fair-trade chocolate.

Markus Wilda, Marketing Manager at Maestrani

25 years after first steps in sustainability, Maestrani began its cooperation with myclimate. Since then, myclimate has become an essential element of the comprehensive sustainability strategy, which is firmly embedded in the company’s governance. In a conversation with myclimate, Maestrani’s Marketing Director Markus Wilda explains why not only economic considerations, but ecological and social aspects as well are decisive for long-term success.

Your sustainability strategy embraces many aspects; the report on this topic is quite extensive. Please describe your activities and the goals associated with them in a few words.

Since the beginning of 2011, the sustainability strategy has been an essential element of the company’s governance. This summer, we were able to publish our second GRI-certified (Global Reporting Initiative) report. The activities presented in the sustainability report provide a holistic look at the company. Alongside economic goals, our operative business has also included ecological and social projects for many years. With the report, we are pursuing two goals in particular. Firstly, we would like to improve our figures in all areas on an on-going basis. Secondly, we would like to provide as much transparency as possible for all stakeholders.

What role does the cooperation with myclimate play in this?

The company’s CO₂ emissions have been a topic for quite some time, and this issue has become part of our matrix of core sustainability topics. In a first phase, we reduced CO₂ emissions primarily through efficiency improvements or resource conservation. These initial measures were quickly replaced and other, long-term projects were introduced. Since 2014, we’ve been compensation the CO₂ in our organic and fair trade line in cooperation with myclimate in Peru, where the cocoa for this chocolate originates. Further projects are in the pipeline. For instance, starting in 2016 we will start compensation the CO₂ produced by our vehicle fleet.

Cocoa as a raw material is always coming up in the discussion. To what extent can you as a manufacturing enterprise influence the raw materials market?

Maestrani is a traditional mid-sized business and the influence on the cocoa market, which is dominated by a few global market stakeholders, is correspondingly small. However, we are aware of the social and ecological problems of the global cocoa industry and put a very high value on the traceability of our raw materials. In 2014, we were able to trace 75% of our cocoa to its source. We intend to make this value 100% in 2016. This ensures that the social and economic conditions of cocoa farmers can be improved with sustainability certificates.

What makes Maestrani and its products unique in Switzerland’s successful traditional chocolate industry?

In terms of history, it is particularly the invention of the conche and the kind of milk chocolate that helped Swiss chocolate win worldwide fame. Our company founder Aquilino Maestrani was a Swiss chocolate pioneer. He founded the company in 1852. Since then, the company has had an eventful history. On the one hand, this history is an incontrovertible proof of quality and continuity; at the same time it also creates an obligation to continue developing our traditional products under our brands Minor, Munz and Maestrani with the same passion as our founder over 160 years ago.

Can one work at Maestrani without having a passion for chocolate as a product?

That’s not possible. I think that hardly anyone manages to elude the magic of chocolate. One proof of this fact is the low level of personnel turnover at our company. Personally, I often find that people envy me for being able to market a product that is so charged with positive emotions. Even our founder once reportedly said, “He who sees the world through the eyes of chocolate lover sees true beauty and happiness”.

Last question: What’s on the horizon for Maestrani?

We are building a new visitor’s center at our production location in Flawil. As of summer 2017, the Chocolarium, as this unique center will be called, will give visitors a full introduction to the topics of cocoa and chocolate. The center will also familiarise visitors with sustainability topics. We are also, of course, constantly working on new products. But I don’t want to reveal anything about that at this time.

Since 2014, all chocolates produced by the brand Maestrani have been climate-neutral. As part of this effort, Maestrani and the consumers of Maestrani organic and fair trade chocolate support the distribution of efficient cookers in Peru.

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