HUG Familie  |  26. January 2023

The catering industry boosts HUG growth

Food Service, HUG’s catering industry department, enjoyed a very strong year in 2022. Both in Switzerland and in exports, turnover far exceeded pre-pandemic levels. The extension of the production building, the backhaus, is now running at full steam and HUG has invested a further CHF 10 million in a new Tartelette production line and various sustainable development initiatives. Anna Hug and Marianne Wüthrich Gross, the two new co-directors, are cautiously optimistic about 2023. The reason for their caution is a rise in costs in general and in energy in particular.

HUG Family has fully recouped loses sustained due to the Coronavirus pandemic and has posted a remarkable increase in its turnover: CHF 10 million, making a total of CHF 123 million. In the catering industry sector in particular, turnover has seen a significant increase of 33% on the previous year. “In the catering sector, factoring in the shortage of qualified staff, our semi-finished products, such as Tartelettes, and our frozen items are in high demand. The trend for enhanced commodities in cooking continues to stimulate sales,” explains Anna Hug, Co-director Markets. This growth has been seen both in Switzerland and across Europe, the United States and the Middle East.

Retail trade: Wernli is gaining market share

Change has remained moderate in the retail trade. The corona effect has dissipated and cross-border shopping has picked up again. However, in the biscuit category, the Wernli brand has made clear progress and has boosted its market share by almost 1%. New branding for Wernli is scheduled for 2023, with new packaging and an information drive. After undergoing a complete makeover last autumn, the DAR-VIDA brand has broadened its distribution network and is attracting new consumers. The switch to climate-neutral packaging for all DAR-VIDA products is also a key step.

A cautiously optimistic outlook for 2023

Because of the current economic and political climate, the 2023 financial year will bring several challenges. As far as some primary and packaging materials are concerned, supply issues remain. Furthermore, HUG is expecting to see energy costs rise sharply. In particular, the price of electricity is set to be five times higher. Nevertheless, Andreas Hug, Chairman of the Administrative Board, remains optimistic about the current financial year: “During our 146 years of existence, we have risen to many challenges and we are well-prepared for the future.” Over the next two years, HUG will invest CHF 10 million in a new Tartelettes production line. The company is counting on strong growth in its Food Service department and in exports in 2023.

Investments and sustainability

As ever, HUG continues to work to improve its energy efficiency and consolidate its production of solar energy; new photovoltaic panels will be installed on the roof of the backhaus, and other sites surrounding the company premises are being assessed. Building the backhaus provided HUG with an opportunity to invest in a modern and innovative energy concept, which earned it a “climate neutral” label from Swiss Climate. The latest innovation regarding sustainable development is HUG’s new edible dessert spoon. It meets the very strict criteria of the HUG primary materials charter and makes for a delicious, ecological alternative to the countless plastic spoons. The HUG dessert spoon will be available from catering wholesalers, on and in HUG Family’s Chnusper-Laden shop from March 2023.

A successful start to joint management

For six months now, Anna Hug and Marianne Wüthrich Gross have adopted a joint management model to run the operational activities of a family firm that has clocked up 146 years of experience. This is their way of demonstrating at top management level what is a matter of course across the company: flexible working models. Co-director in charge of operations, Marianne Wüthrich Gross takes a positive view: “Because we complement each other perfectly and we both have more time for ourselves and our sides of business, this model has enabled us to achieve better results.” Marianne Wüthrich Gross runs operations and Anna Hug runs markets. With this management model, HUG is sending out a strong message and proving to be an attractive employer; according to a survey carried out among staff in 2022, staff identification with the company and job satisfaction are very high, and the percentage of part-time employees has increased significantly.

The press release and related photos are available for download via the following link:

The HUG Family

HUG AG is a family firm employing some 430 people (full time) at its sites in Malters and Willisau. Founded in Lucerne in 1877, HUG was originally a bakery; today it is run by the fifth generation of the family. “We really put our hearts into cooking your everyday moments of pleasure,” say Anna Hug and Marianne Wüthrich Gross, who run the company jointly on the following three principles: humanity, entrepreneurship and care. In short, typically HUG. Through its four brands - HUG, Wernli, DAR-VIDA and HUG Food Service - the company offers a wide range of products: from traditional HUG Swiss biscuits such as Willisauer Rings, to Wernli specialities like Choco Petit Beurre, not forgetting DAR-VIDA crackers. In addition to retail products, HUG also offers a wide range of high-quality bakery products such as HUG Tartelettes for the catering industry. These four brands stand for the core values of pleasure, naturalness and authenticity.

Irene Bühlmann

Irene Bühlmann

Assistentin der Geschäftsleitung