Windau GmbH & Co. KG has been internationally known for its traditional Westphalian sausage and ham specialties for over 40 years. But the raw sausage manufacturer from Harsewinkel, who relies on Schröter's tried-and-tested systems for its production, recognized a trend early on - the meat-free diet boom. As a result, back in 2014, the family-run company expanded its range to include vegetarian and vegan products.
A wide range of delicious sausages - but without any meat
In Germany, there are nearly eight million vegetarians*, nearly one million vegans*, and about 9.6 million flexitarians** - and these numbers continue to grow. Many of them enjoy the taste of sausage and don't want to give it up. Windau recognized this business segment's potential and was one of the first meat-processing companies to introduce a vegetarian salami. Now the Westphalian company has produced and sold meat-free products for nearly ten years. Its success story began back in 1976, when Clemens Hilker founded the small business. The initial staff of 16 employees has now grown to nearly 250, and the production area has expanded from 1,200 to 22,000 square meters. Every day, 120 different products leave the production facility - from raw sausage to cooked sausage and ham to convenience products. Windau doesn't only have extremely high standards when it comes to raw goods and recipes - needs-based, optimal, and economical processing in its production lines is also a top priority. To meet these demands, Windau also counts on outstanding quality when it comes to the production systems it uses. Because of these high standards, Schröter has supported the company with its raw sausage production right from the beginning.
Windau uses a staggered production schedule to manufacture its vegetarian and vegan products. This means that they use the systems for meat production to produce the meat-free line of products during the next shift. In this context, a thorough cleaning and meticulous cleanliness are of utmost importance. Ongoing, rigorous inspections prevent residues, and laboratory samples using smear tests ensure that meat contamination is not possible. This is how the company can effectively split up its production processes.
"In 2014, the market wasn't yet receptive to meat-free products like this," says Michael Kleine-Tebbe, head of research and development, looking back to the beginnings. "But now both discounters and retailers have opened up and added these products to their selection." It's no wonder either, since over time taste, appearance, and texture of these products has improved significantly. And the numbers speak for themselves - at Windau, this segment has now grown to six percent of total revenue, with 60 percent of this total stemming from vegetarian and 40 percent from vegan products. As a result, the company's focus has moved toward vegan products. "We embraced this innovative trend early on and expanded this segment. Today we can say that our vegan and vegetarian products add to the revenue generated by our meat products. These products are not purchased as a substitute for meat products," emphasizes CEO Uwe de Weerd, explaining the reason as follows: "These products primarily appeal to a younger clientele that did not purchase any of our meat products before." Vegan and vegetarian products are mostly a national issue, however. Windau sells approximately 98 percent of these products in Germany, with only two percent being exported, mostly to Scandinavian countries. But one thing is certain: vegan and vegetarian products are here to stay and are extremely popular on the meal plans at schools, day-care centers, and hospitals. This is a market with good prospects for the future, and one that Schröter clearly has its sights set on. As such, with its flexible production systems, the equipment manufacturer from East Westphalia is also focusing on this promising segment.
If a company produces traditional and meat-free products using the same, an extremely thorough cleaning is an absolute must. With Schröter systems, a programmed control unit helps clean them consistently well and as quickly as possible - using the least amount of chemicals and water as possible. The automatic cleaning device operates using a booster pump and can be used for more than one production system. The Process visualization software documents every cleaning with the same level of precision as it does the production processes. As a result, system operators can always see when the system was cleaned. With its automated cleaning system, Schröter makes the production process safer and ensures that ressources are used in an ideal manner.
* Source: German Vegetarian Alliance (VEBU), January 2015
** Source: Study by the Universities of Göttingen and Hohenheim, 2014, (a flexitarian diet is one that is plant-based with the occasional inclusion of meat)
Delicious enjoyment without any meat - that is the slogan for vegetarian and vegan products at Windau. The company has offered a wide range of different meat-free products since 2014, which includes everything from vegetarian salami to vegan liverwurst and teewurst to vegetarian and vegan ham sausage and pulled pork. Customers can select from three different types of vegetarian salami that are rich in protein and high-quality rapeseed oil, without any added flavor enhancers. The company's vegan liverwurst and teewurst are also produced with high-quality vegetable protein. All of the aforementioned products are glutenfree. The product range also includes vegan pulled pork in three delicious recipes: Classic, BBQ, and Gyros Style.