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Eisberg Österreich GmbH & Bell Food Group open modern production plant

New competence center for fresh convenience products in Austria

Swiss food company Bell Food Group is strengthening its investment activities in Austria. Following the purchase of the Upper Austrian poultry specialist Huber in March 2016, the ground-breaking ceremony for a new plant for fresh convenience products of the associated Eisberg Group in Marchtrenk took place on 15 September 2017. With the new building, the Bell Food Group is opening the 7th production plant of the ice-cream conglomerate specializing in convenience salads, which became Bell's property in April 2016. All in all, Bell is investing around € 30 million, creating more than 100 jobs in the first expansion phase.

Strong focus on regionalism...
"With our new plant in Marchtrenk, we will above all focus on the needs and demands of Austrian consumers regarding regional products. In addition to local production, our focus is on the greatest possible use of local, regional raw materials," explains Franco Mühlgrabner, Managing Director of Eisberg Österreich GmbH. A recent motivational analysis by AgrarMarkt Austria (AMA) confirms that regionality is the top trend in shopping and at the moment, it seems to remain so in the future. For example, for 40% of respondents, Austria being the point of origin is the number one purchasing criterion. Slightly more than 20% place regionality and controlled quality in first place. Another study by Statista shows that for 88% of Austrian consumers surveyed, it is important to find "elements of Austria" in their food. Franco Mühlgrabner emphasizes in this respect: "Especially with regard to raw materials procurement, we value good cooperation with local, Austrian producers. Here we would like to expand existing partnerships and enter into new cooperations. The doors for domestic suppliers of raw materials are always open at Eisberg Austria," says Franco Mühlgrabner.

...and the creation of new jobs
The new, € 30 million construction project not only offers new cooperation opportunities to domestic raw material suppliers; it also creates new jobs in the region - more than 100 in the first expansion stage. Mayor Paul Mahr of Marchtrenk, in particular, is pleased to announce that this new development will bring an appreciation to the township. "The decision of the Bell Food Group to choose the new production facility Marchtrenk as location in Austria is again greatly expanding the supply of jobs, which has already been expanded by more than 1000 new jobs in 2016. The residents of Marchtrenk and the surrounding areas will be happy about these new job opportunities. The talks about a "modern" federal highway, connecting to the province of Upper Austria should also be seen as a positive element," said Mayor Mahr.

In addition to the production area, administration and development of the company will also be located at the site. This results in a multitude of interesting national and international career opportunities. "We reckon with a workforce of over 100 people, from the start. According to our growth prospects, a workforce of over 200 people is a possibility," adds Marco Tschanz, CFO of the Bell Food Group.

Innovative, broad product range for each customer group...
Following scheduled completion and expected commissioning in the fourth quarter of 2018, the company provides a broad range of products for retail, food service and system catering customers. The assortment ranges from convenience salads, vegetables and fruits to Bircher muesli creations to fresh snack products. "The fresh convenience range is one of the fastest growing segments in the industry. As an experienced and long-standing producer of fresh convenience products, we will be producing an attractive complete range of fresh and ultra-fresh products in the future," says Franco Mühlgrabner.

In addition to the creation of a broad and deep product range in the fresh produce sector, another focus is placed on innovation. "Comparing the current convenience offer with the innovative and broad assortment from the UK, Holland and, for example, Switzerland, we see great opportunities to introduce new products and innovative concepts to the Austrian market," adds Christian Guggisberg, CEO of the Eisberg Gruppe.

...produced in a high-tech operation
Managing Director Franco Mühlgrabner also refers to the USP of the new plant in Marchtrenk: "On the 24,000 m² site, we are building a state-of-the-art competence center for fresh convenience products with our own research and development department. The innovations from research combined with the use of the latest technology and Industry 4.0 enable us to act in a highly efficient manner on the market and set new standards," says Mühlgrabner. Furthermore, cooperations with research institutions and external partners are in the making, in order to work together on important topics such as sustainable packaging solutions. The newly selected location in Marchtrenk also offers the Bell Food Group an excellent logistical location in the heart of Europe with short delivery routes within Austria and the surrounding countries.

Utilizing Group synergies
Parent company Bell Food Group supports the new production project in Upper Austria with know-how and synergies from the entire group. "As a leading meat and convenience processor in Europe, our knowledge and expertise are of course also incorporated into the new location in Marchtrenk," says Marco Tschanz, CFO of the Bell Food Group.

Convenience on a grand scale
The Eisberg Group, headquartered in Dällikon/CH, is one of the leading companies in Europe in the production of fresh convenience salads, vegetables and fruits and the number one in Switzerland and Eastern Europe. Around 1,100 employees are involved in supplying customers in 12 countries with a total of approximately 34,000 tons of fresh convenience products per year. With three production plants in Switzerland, one production facility each in Poland, Romania and Hungary and a purchasing office in Spain, the group serves customers from the retail, food service and system catering sectors. In the future, the group of companies belonging to the Swiss food group Bell Food Group will be strengthened by a new production facility in Austria.

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