Innovation meets tradition – a perfect match for the future!
The company started out as a family-operated Kanne bakery and was founded in 1904. In 1948, Wilhelm Kanne Sr. joined the company owned by his father and was later to develop Kanne's organic bread drink. Today, the company employs a staff of more than 420 (including 95 apprentices) in the bakery, the 30 branches and the plant that produces Organic Kanne Bread Drink®.
...enter the game changer: Kanne Bread Drink®!
Wilhelm Kanne took the wraps off his new invention, Original Kanne Bread Drink®, in the early 1980s. Prior to this launch, he had spent more than 20 years experimenting with the fermentation of organic bread grains – because he was entirely convinced that the lacto-fermented products possess important health benefits. Early on, friends and acquaintances reported with great enthusiasm about their experiences with the Bread Drink.
Christel Kanne, wife of bread drink inventor Wilhelm Kanne, has accompanied the development from the very beginning. She still remembers every detail of how her husband's brainchild came into being and how Kanne grew into a thriving business. "Everything we did we did together", she remembers. "That is why I still recall every facet of how it all began." Click here for an excerpt of her memories.
"We started out as a small bakery nearly 60 years ago and managed to turn this humble outfit into the prosperous business it is today. My husband and I married in 1956 because my parents-in-law insisted that my husband take a wife before they would allow him to open a bakery. We then proceeded to open a branch and then another one, before we started bursting at the seams at our old production facility in 1969 and moved to Altlünen. There, we built a large bakery on a greenfield site. And, this is where the bakery still remains today. Today, we operate with 30 branches.
Being the enterprising man that he is, operating a baking goods business did not mark the end of my husband's aspirations. He never stopped researching. He was someone who was constantly bursting with new ideas and always on the look-out for an opportunity to break new ground. He initially wanted to venture into beer brewing. However, the experiments he conducted taught him that brewing beer was not his cup of tea. Instead, he had come to realise that what he really wanted was to make a product that is beneficial to his customers' health. At the time, he had heard from soldiers returning from prisoner-of-war camps in Russia about a Russian beverage named Kwass, which was concocted from fermented bread, vegetables and other ingredients and contained alcohol. People drank it to prevent contracting diseases.
This story piqued his interest. Wilhelm Kanne set about experimenting. He started by grabbing a beat-up clay pot that I had forgotten I still had. He filled it with bread and water and allowed the mixture to ferment. He discovered that the mix had formed some gunk, a sort of coat, all around the clay pot. It seemed that the ancient dingy pot had cleaned itself with the help of the brew it held inside. While lacking academic training himself, my husband was exceptionally well connected in the scientific field even back then and asked his friends and acquaintances from that circle about this astonishing phenomenon. An experienced fermentation biologist confirmed that the fermentation process was responsible for the interior cleaning of the pot. The next question was whether this process could be applied to the human body in a similar way? My husband, the tinkerer, sensed a tremendous opportunity. However, the outcome of his experiences did not quite satisfy Wilhelm Kanne. Some fermentation processes failed or showed inconsistent results, in short: he had hit a snag. What was he doing wrong? One day, he used organic grain instead of ordinary grain. And, lo and behold, the fermentation processes succeeded!
We then tried to gain access to larger quantities of organic grain. Unfortunately, organic grain producers were few and far between at the time. Over time, however, Wilhelm Kanne managed to convince an increasing number of large-scale farmers of the benefits of organic grain. While encouraging farmers to switch their conventional production to the cultivation of organic products was far from easy back then, Wilhelm Kanne accomplished this task, thereby overcoming the initial difficulty and ensuring a reliable supply of organic grain for his company. Even today, we still procure all of our grain from organic farmers.
Before we started selling Organic Kanne Bread Drink® to the general public, we first gave our friends and acquaintances a taste. They were all thrilled and, in turn, told their own friends and acquaintances. The new bread drink made by Kanne was the talk of the town.
The clay pots my husband had used for his initial experiments soon reached their capacity and could no longer handle the new production requirements. So, we ended up installing fermentation tanks with greater capacity at our old bakery in Lünen. The bread drink was a smash hit from the get-go and initiated a real boom. After a while, our production capacity was no longer able to meet the surging demand. The main obstacle was the extensive fermentation period. Slowed down by the need to dedicate several months to this process, the pace of production could not keep up with the swelling demand. We did not have to run any advertising campaigns for our Organic Kanne Bread Drink®, as excited consumers rapidly spread the word and propagated the buzz for this product. When our premises were eventually outgrown by the constantly increasing demand in 1986, we moved to a new location in Selm-Bork, where we still engage in sustainable and environmentally compatible production today."
We have always put environmental protection and sustainability front and centre in all of our corporate decisions. In 1996, Kanne erected the Kanne Environmental Academy, which is designed to give invited (expert) visitors – including physicians, natural health professionals, veterinarians, non-veterinary practitioners and sports clubs – an up-close-and-personal experience of the Kanne concept. Just a little while later, Kanne set up their first company-owned wind turbine - which, in the meantime, has been replaced by a larger model with greater capacity - as harvesting the power of the wind fits seamlessly into the company's overall concept of environmentally compatible power generation.
In recognition of their efforts to improve sustainability, Kanne has been awarded a slew of prizes and awards for sustainable business management.
And the success story continues - to promote healthy and environmentally compatible nutrition in the 21st century!