150 years ago, a young entrepreneur called Ignatz Lederer builds a spirit distillery in the village of Jungbunzlau in the former Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic). Relentless experimentation leads Lederer to discover a way of distilling refined alcohol using the plentiful supplies of sugar beet in the area. Lederer uses his new technology to produce molasses spirit, which is much higher quality than spirit made the traditional way – from potatoes. The resourceful Lederer also uses the distillery’s residues to produce potassium carbonate and the company grows rapidly, enabling Lederer to set up the ‘Actiengesellschaft Jungbunzlauer Spiritus und Chemische Fabrik’ corporation.
Entrepreneurship and long term thinking are two key elements in our commitment to the industries we serve.Alexander Kahane, Chair
When Ignatz Lederer steps down as head of the company, his three sons take over and relocate the headquarters of the business from Prague to Vienna. The brothers invest in the company, which is by this time flourishing, and open a second spirit distillery, in Pernhofen some 70 km north of Vienna in Austria. As a consequence of the Second World War and the aftermath several activities are lost and nationalised in Eastern Europe and the remaining parts of the company consist of the activities in Austria.
Encouraged by increasing market demand, the company builds an additional plant onsite at Pernhofen, and begins production of citric acid. Today, the plant in Pernhofen is by far the company’s biggest manufacturing site.
Karl Kahane, the owner of Montana AG, acquires the company from the Lederer family and makes significant investment in upgrading its fermentation technology and improving its overall profitability. Alongside alcoholic spirits, citric acid becomes an important product with substantial market opportunities and gradually the alcohol production is phased out.
Widening its horizons, Jungbunzlauer investigates a potential new product: xanthan gum. Having been approved for use as a food additive in 1968, xanthan gum is gaining more and more market share as a thickening agent and rheology modifier. A production facility is built at Pernhofen for the new product and Jungbunzlauer enters the xanthan gum market in 1986.
In 1988 Jungbunzlauer acquires Benckiser’s organic acid division in Ladenburg, Germany. This gives the company its first site within the European Community and underlines its willingness and ability to react to economic trends in Europe in the long-term. With this acquisition, Jungbunzlauer achieves a step-change in its citric acid production capacity and also becomes a producer of sodium gluconate. The foundations are also laid for later product portfolio expansion.
Karl Kahane establishes the Karl Kahane Foundation (KKF) in 1991 as an independent, privately funded, non-political and non-religious charitable foundation. KKF continues to work with a growing number of organisations in various fields, including Healthcare, Social Welfare, Applied Development Research and Training, Education, Women’s Rights, and Living Conditions in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Canada.
1993 proves to be an eventful year. The Jungbunzlauer Holding in Switzerland is founded and the company’s headquarters transfer to Basel.
Also in 1993 Jungbunzlauer Singapore Pte Ltd. is established, with the aim of developing business in the Far East. Growing capacity also increases the company’s raw material needs, and construction of a starch hydrolysate plant with an integrated fermentation unit is completed in Marckolsheim, France.
Three years after Marckolsheim's opening Jungbunzlauer begins production of sodium gluconate at the site. Sodium gluconate is the sodium salt of gluconic acid, produced by fermentation of glucose.
Jungbunzlauer expands its portfolio at Ladenburg with products derived from further processing of its core products. This includes a variety of esters that can be used in technical applications, personal care, food and pharmaceuticals, as well as a portfolio of highly bioavailable organic mineral salts produced by neutralising citric or gluconic acid. Today the company has a wide portfolio of these “Special Salts”.
Responding to increasing global demand for citric acid, Jungbunzlauer builds its fourth plant, in Port Colborne, Canada, from where it starts supplying the North and Latin American markets.
Marckolsheim begins production of erythritol, which is made by fermenting yeast and glucose from corn. Part of its “Sweeteners” product group, Jungbunzlauer starts to make the first natural polyol used as a bulk sweetener made in Europe.
In order to strengthen its global presence, Jungbunzlauer opens affiliate offices in Tokyo in 2006 and in Mexico City in 2009.
Jungbunzlauer enters the lactic acid market with a range of (L+)-lactic acid products as well as salts and blends thereof. This makes it the only company in the world producing all three of the most widely used organic acids obtained by fermentation: citric acid, gluconic acid and lactic acid.
At the end of 2015 Jungbunzlauer takes full ownership of the neighbouring Ingredion facility after it has been reconfigured as a dedicated site for the production of corn-based glucose for fermentation purposes. This enables it to further strengthen Port Colborne’s efficiency and sustainability footprint. Securing a fully vertically integrated supply chain for the production of citric acid and trisodium citrate at Port Colborne is at the core of Jungbunzlauer’s strategy.
In order to provide customers with new innovative solutions meeting the consumer trends focusing on safer, healthier and more sustainable offerings a new Application Technology Centre is established in Ladenburg, Germany, and the organisation both here and globally is expanded.
Jungbunzlauer has celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2017 looking back on its successful development under the ownership of the Kahane Family during the last 50 years. Due to its growing international presence a new Application Technology Center opened in Chicago, USA, in 2018. Helping customers to achieve healthy, safe and more sustainable products Jungbunzlauer follows a strict Non-GMO policy and obtained the Non-GMO verification for all its manufacturing sites in Europe.
The year 2020 will take a prominent place in the history books due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jungbunzlauer could provide the essential ingredients needed for food, detergents and cleaners in great demand and managed to supply record volumes. The trademark as a reliable supplier was tested and proven. Mega trends around sustainability and digitalisation became even stronger. Vision2030 for Jungbunzlauer was developed centred on sustainable growth, expansion of the product portfolio and continued investments in people, capacities and capabilities.