Harald and Buhler – a success story09.06.2009 Harald is a Brazilian chocolate producer that continuously invests in new technologies in order to maintain its leadership in wholesaling and the food industry. Working closely together with the Buhler Chocolate & Cocoa business unit, Harald has evolved over the past five years from a compound producer to a solution provider for industrial chocolate. In Brazil, the Neugebauer name is synonymous with industrial chocolate. The Harald chocolate factory, which was set up in 1982 by the young Ernesto Neugebauer in Porto Alegre, supplied its goods to large-scale bakeries and ice cream producers.
When the entire production facility was moved from Porto Alegre to São Paulo in the year 2002, this also changed the goals of Ernesto Neugebauer. “We wanted to add to our range of products and services and move upward by gradually entering foreign markets,” says the Harald boss of the company’s objectives. Up to that time, Harald had primarily made so-called compound products for industrial use as ingredients, coatings, or fillings. Unlike “proper” chocolate, compound “chocolate” uses extraneous fat instead of cocoa butter. But the relocation to São Paulo triggered a gradual evolution of Harald as a compound producer to a maker of “real” chocolate and an industrial solution provider for chocolate specialties.
The second goal of Ernesto Neugebauer was to enter foreign markets. From its base in Brazil, he intended to first develop the export markets in the neighboring countries and then to proceed to remoter regions.
Buhler as part of the success formula
For executing his quality strategy, Ernesto Neugebauer sought a suitable technology partner. “In chocolate production, high quality is generated by the combination of high-grade raw materials, excellent equipment, top process technology, time, and suitable product recipes,” says Ernesto Neugebauer, summarizing the criteria for quality chocolate. In South America, top-grade raw materials grow so to speak on the doorstep. Buhler was chosen as a partner for the other ingredients of the success formula. After all, the value offered by Buhler solutions with their high-quality production systems and process expertise was precisely what the up-and-coming entrepreneur Neugebauer was looking for. “As a chocolate producer of many years, I of course knew Buhler as a topnotch system provider,” says the Harald managing director. “We had always wanted Buhler machines in the plant of Harald. Ever since our company was established in 1982, we knew that we would set our focus on end product quality and that one of the ways we could achieve it was by relying on Buhler solutions. We ultimately entered into a close partnership with Buhler because its solutions allow high value to be generated.”
Step by step
With Buhler as a partner at its side, the Harald chocolate company was to be rebuilt step by step and to be oriented toward making high-quality products. The joint success story of Harald and Buhler started in 2003, when the first contract was signed. In that year, the company ordered its first chocolate production line and first bar molding system. The plant essentially consists of a mixer (SMKN-1850), a two-roll pre-refiner (PreFiner-1300), a five-roll refiner (Finer-1800), a conche (ELK), and a bar molding system (CMB-620). This initial Buhler chocolate line went into service at Harald in 2004.
It did not take long before market success set in. Harald rapidly found customers for its new chocolate products. And so, the very next year, an additional fully automatic five-roll chocolate refiner with a product film thickness controller was added to the production facility.
Spurred on by this success, Harald decided in 2007 to continue its capital spending by adding a second chocolate line to its factory. In its first stage, the expansion comprised two five-roll refiners, a conche, a depositer (PowerShot-1200) for the existing bar molding system, and a second CMB-620 molding line. At the same time, Harald also upgraded its laboratory by installing two laboratory conches (Elkolino, DUC) and a laboratory threeroll mill (SDX-600). Then, in 2008, two additional five-roll refiners and a conche were added to complete the plant.
Today, the Harald chocolate factory boasts two state-of-the-art chocolate lines. One line – equipped with a mixer, a two-roll pre-refiner, four five-roll refiners, and three conches – makes the “new” chocolate products. The second – provided with existing older Buhler machines in conjunction with the two new five-roll refiners – produces compound chocolate mass.
The output and sales revenue of the Harald chocolate factory have been on a steady rise since the new factory went into operation in 2002. But Harald made a real leap when it started up its first Buhler chocolate line. In 2008, Harald produced some 56,000 metric tons of chocolate products with almost 500 employees. It markets over 100 different items, ranging from industrial chocolate and chocolate icings, creams, and fillings to chocolate-coated breakfast cereals. In the current year, the company plans to boost sales by 18 percent.
Aiming at a share of exports of 15 % in the medium term
Harald has developed into a “secret” giant of the South American chocolate industry over the past years. “Our efforts to attain top quality and to diversify our product range have been very readily honored by the market,” says Ernesto Neugebauer. “Our output has grown year by year at a rate above the national average. We have achieved our strategic goals. And with its technology and process expertise, Buhler was instrumental in enabling us to accomplish what we wanted.”
Harald has also achieved its second strategic goal. “With our top-quality products, we have gradually gained a foothold in the markets of Chile, Peru, and the U.S.,” says 51-year-old Ernesto Neugebauer. As much as four percent of Harald’s total output is exported today. “In the medium term, we plan to reach an export share of 15 percent,” says Neugebauer. This effort will be supported also by the latest project: In 2009, Harald plans to export 500 metric tons of chocolate to the Arabic countries. “We are currently negotiating with prospective customers in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar, and Oman. We believe that the entire Middle East is a highly attractive and promising market.”
Over the past years, Harald has invested about 50 million real. Ernesto Neugebauer has thus set new standards in the South American market. European businesspeople frequently tour his facilities. “We have a business and therefore also an end product that are second to no other of their kind anywhere in the world,” says the proud owner of the Harald chocolate factory.
Success story continues
In order to maintain its competitive edge, Harald is continuing its partnership with Buhler. “Our collaboration will continue. We will receive tech nical support from Buhler. Moreover, the people from Buhler Brazil look after our plant and equipment and offer us top-class and fast service. Last, not least, we are also relying on Buhler to develop new products,” says Ernesto Neugebauer, expressing his belief in Buhler and describing the benefits that Buhler offers as a partner.