Protein bar number 100 million from Colditz

Protein bar number 100 million from Colditz

At Anona in Colditz, almost 500 employees ensure that pharmacies and gyms receive protein products from Saxony. Excavators for the next hall turn next to plant 3.

Dough with crumbs: Plant operator Martin Ost produces multi-layer bars at Anona in Colditz – according to the company with a lot of protein and a little sugar.
© Anja Jungnickel

Colditz. The scent of vanilla rises in the nose, despite the mask. A baking mixture has just been seeped out of a giant bag into kettle 016. Melted fat and syrup are added, the thermometer shows 42 degrees chocolate temperature. All ingredients are ready for production of multilayer rods in plant 3 at Anona GmbH.

The company in Colditz in the Leipzig district with almost 500 employees is one of the market leaders in sports nutrition and diet products – and is currently expanding again. The 28 employees in the research and development department have selected the ingredients before the arm-length metal stirrer lifts the chocolate pieces up into the kneading bowl under the dough according to the stirring protocol.

For a few weeks, to the regret of CEO Matthias Dietzsch, they have done little more than adapt recipes to the changed raw material deliveries. The Colditzes have increased their stocks. But they also notice the lack of sunflower oil and will increasingly use rapeseed and soybeans.

Colorful selection: Anona's developers create around 1,000 new products from 2,000 raw materials each year.  Retail chains sell them under different names, Anona is just the name of the soft ice cream.

Colorful selection: Anona’s developers create around 1,000 new products from 2,000 raw materials each year. Retail chains sell them under different names, Anona is just the name of the soft ice cream.
© Anja Jungnickel

Plant 1 is located at Colditz Castle, plants 2 and 3 on the outskirts

Anona is able to deliver and the business is growing every year. Businessman Dietzsch and his CEO-colleague, engineer Wolfram Strauch, each reported about ten percent revenue growth over the past two years at the news conference Thursday – despite Corona, though individual production lines had to be stopped from time to time due to a plant operator’s illness.

The executives do not mention the exact turnover, but the annual report mentions a gross profit of 43 million euros and 5.7 million annual profit for 2020. A few days ago, the bar number 100 million left Anona’s Plant 3. Individually wrapped in foil.

Plant 3 first became operational three years ago on the outskirts of Colditz, in a former construction market next to plant 2. Plant 1 had long been too small, sandwiched between a loop by Zwickauer Mulde and the castle, which was destroyed of English officers who fled in World War II became known.

Giant kettle, giant stirrer: This is where the dough for multilayer rods, which are produced in shifts, is made.

Giant kettle, giant stirrer: This is where the dough for multilayer rods, which are produced in shifts, is made.
© Anja Jungnickel

Protein powder for athletes is the revenue generator

At the roundabout in Colditz, the signs point to “Anona 1, 2, 3”, and soon there will also be 2b. For the company, investing around ten million euros in an extension. There is a photovoltaic system on the roof, supported by the state. So far, Anona has produced the power in a cogeneration plant with natural gas, according to the executives, the company does not need much heat. Strauch soberly reports that there are still powder filling lines all over the factory premises in places where they do not really belong. Production must be restructured.

Anona makes most of its sales with powder. Onion cans with protein-rich content are popular among athletes who want to shape their figure. But the company’s pride is the multilayer rods, which are not easy to produce. Some parts of the production may not have been photographed, such as the place where the large vessels are set aside and automatically scraped out.

At the 50-meter-long cooling section for stracciatella bars, plant operator Martin Ost says that he naturally likes sweets – but also a nice steak. The 31-year-old with a tattooed arm came to Anona as a career changer. After ten years in his trained profession as a vehicle electronics technician, he wanted to “do something completely different”. Wearing a white coat and blue cap, he now monitors how the protein dough is pushed through the aisle of the tape, automatically cut lengthwise and then divided into individual rods.

The CEOs of Anona GmbH: the engineer Wolfram Strauch and the businessman Matthias Dietzsch.

The CEOs of Anona GmbH: the engineer Wolfram Strauch and the businessman Matthias Dietzsch.
© Anja Jungnickel

Anona sells anonymously – through pharmacies and discount stores

Movies automatically wrap the protein products, pre-printed with labels like “Protein Bar”. The name Anona does not appear on the boxes or on the powder cans. The capsules, tablets, biscuits and ampoules from Colditz also never bear the company name.

At Rossmann in the neighboring town or in the fitness center as well as at discount stores in Germany and abroad, they are offered under different brand names. This is how the big customers want it, say the CEOs. And for these customers, they are the service providers who track trends, suggest recipes and then produce them.

The people of Colditz, who like to call themselves “food makers”, create about 1,000 different products each year. Something is always modified, even for the US or Chinese market. The main trend at the moment: “Vegan is the new organic,” it says on Anona’s website. So Colditz test kitchen develops vegan soups, bars and cookies. Make meat-free burgers yourself, “even I can do it,” says Dietzsch: mix vegan meat substitute powder from Saxony, let it soak in water for a moment, and then put it in the pan.

If you have 70 vacancies, you need to come up with something: Anona offered a period bonus of 1,000 euros for hiring an employee.

If you have 70 vacancies, you need to come up with something: Anona offered a period bonus of 1,000 euros for hiring an employee.
© Georg Moeritz

Soft ice cream with penguin Market leader in the east

Until five years ago, it did not bother the CEOs much that their company was barely known. But since then, it has been difficult for them to find new employees and they have to advertise. In the last few weeks, they have even offered a bonus of 1,000 euros for successful recommendations. About 70 positions are vacant. According to information on an ad postcard, Anona is looking for machine and system operators, food technology specialists, line managers and also career changers.

There is at least one Anona product that is also sold under this name in the new federal states: the soft ice cream with the penguin. The powder for about 40 varieties is supplied by Colditz to bakers and ice cream suppliers. According to its own information, Anona is the market leader in eastern Germany for softice powder. And the staff tells the chefs what flavors they want: Every Wednesday from Easter to October, everyone gets their favorite sundae in the Colditz canteen.

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