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Special feature

Food processing : the Alsace’s 2nd largest industrial sector

Beers, wines, liqueurs, meat and cooked meats, biscuits, pretzels, flammekueche, cheeses, pastries, coffee or chocolate… the menu of the Alsace food processing industry is incredibly varied. Dinner is served!

In Alsace, 250 food processing companies employ 16,500 employees, making it the second-largest industrial sector in the region. Alongside major international groups, there is still a very large number of family SMEs that have been able to retain their independence. More than half of companies have less than 10 employees.

Heavyweights on the world market

Among the giant global groups established in Alsace, Mars is without doubt the most emblematic: at Haguenau, the famous chocolate maker produces chocolate bars and the well-known M&M’s for the whole of Europe. So three-quarters of production is exported. At Steinbourg, the brand produces ice creams for the French market. And at Biesheim, in the Colmar region, Wrigley, subsidiary of Mars, produces the well-known Freedent chewing gums. Staying in the chocolate sector, let’s stop at Strasbourg, where Mondelez, formerly Kraft Foods, supplies brands like Milka and Suchard with Easter and Christmas products, more than half of which are exported in Europe.

Mars France - M&M's

Kougelhopf

Know-how that makes the difference

But where the Alsace really makes a difference is in the diversity of its products.  From aperitifs to liqueurs, the region offers almost everything to create a meal:  beers, innumerable cooked meats, including the well-known Alsace knack, which has just been awarded the status of Protected Geographical Name (IGP), foie gras, sauerkraut of course, very varied meats, accompanied by incomparable mustards and horseradishes, smoked or unsmoked fish, pastries, flammekueche, Munster cheese and torrents of sweet and savoury pastries extending as far as small Christmas treats, famous bredele biscuits… all washed down with spring or mineral water, Sylvaner, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, pinot noir, gris and blanc, and crémant sparkling wines, which are enjoying growing success in France and internationally. Before finishing with a good coffee roasted in plants at Strasbourg port.

Spreading the influence of Alsace food processing

Small anthology of companies to whom we owe this delicious profusion. Valfleuri pastries, near Mulhouse, and those of two hundred-year old companies: Grand-Mère pastries at Marlenheim and Pâtes Thirion, 110 years on the clock, at Colmar. Another product, another dimension: Jus de Fruits d’Alsace, at Sarre-Union. Originally processing apples produced by numerous Alsace orchards, the company’s 240 employees now produce pure fruit juices, smoothies, nectars and are starting to produce 33 cL cartons.

In another field, foie gras made by Feyel, which in 1861 was already treating the guests of Napoléon III, is now one of the oldest French producers. Secret of this longevity: the well-known blend of 13 spices that has even seduced the chefs at the Tour d’Argent in Paris. Or yet, Christine Ferber and Mireille Oster, who produce, respectively, jams and spiced bread to die for, and which the Japanese are crazy about.

Another famous Alsatian, Pierre Hermé – the “Picasso of pastry” (according to Vogue magazine) – opened his first shop in Tokyo in 1998, followed by a tea house in July 2000. But it is at Wittenheim, near Mulhouse, that in 2008 he created the chocolate and macaroon factory that bears his name.

Pates Grand Mère Alsace