When our father Günther Hellriegel imported Spanish olives, artichokes and anchovies to Germany in 1965, he was one of the pioneers of our industry. The company Hellriegel consistently expanded its product range and brought the imported products to the market with great success. At that time, the republic was still moving between schnitzel and sour roast, herring and white sausage. Those who indulged in some extravagance ordered a rump steak. But olives or even anchovies? Such a thing was on the table at best on holiday. So how did the sprout of a Berlin family of lawyers start trading in Mediterranean specialities?
As is so often the case in life, in the beginning was love. Günther Hellriegel worked in Madrid at the time and fell in love not only with the enchanting Spaniard Ruth Anna-Maria, but also with Spanish cuisine. In 1957, he took Ruth Anna-Maria to Berlin as a woman and a sense of good taste.
Equipped with a sense of the trend of the times, Hellriegel has realized that with the beginning of the wave of Germans’ journey to the Mediterranean, there is also a longing for the delicacies from the holiday country. In 1965 Günther Hellriegel opened a delicatessen import in Frankfurt am Main. He rented a garage in Frankfurt’s Westend.
Hellriegel consistently expanded its product range. From 1965 onwards, he was the first supplier to be found with a double page of delicatessen products in the Neckermann catalogue. Lufthansa was also one of his first customers. Seine Produkte fanden außerdem großen Anklang bei Caterern weiterer Fluggesellschaften, im Lebensmitteleinzelhandel und im Großhandel. After Hellriegel had to store the products of his strongly grown range in 15 different garages, he decided in 1970 to build a new building in Kronberg.
Over the years, the market changed. Large retail chains such as Schade, Massa and Latscha were taken over. Today, airlines usually only serve sandwiches. And olive has long since become a mass item in the supermarket. The fine sense of good taste and highest quality had become an obstacle, because in the price war quality is usually sacrificed first.
“We grew up with fantastic international cuisine,” says Christian Hellriegel, one of the family’s three sons, who now works as managing director at Hellriegel.
“From an early age, we were used to eating together with the whole family at our large dining table. This sharpened our perception of what we need to eat and taste like something. That’s why we always cost all meals on site and offer our customers only the products that we can bring to Germany without any loss of quality. Authentic taste is more important to us than import ingesis at all costs.”
Christian Hellriegel and his brothers Ulf and Ralf have been running the company since the early 1990s and have since given it important creative impulses. The many trips and thus the international orientation of the family were placed in the cradle of the three managing directors.
Through the long-term cooperation, international friendships developed – most of them already in the second generation. Producers from Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Turkey or China form such a large family, which – like Hellriegel – understands food as a quality of life. All three brothers also travel the world regularly to expand their network of friends and bring the trends and specialities of different countries to German plates. “My father’s concept of making a meal a short break with refined ingredients still carries today,” explains Christian Hellriegel. Only that over time the expectations of customers have changed. What was the olive in the 1960s is now the truffle. And since we have always served the taste of the top class, Hellriegel is now one of Germany’s largest suppliers of fresh truffles and truffle products. “We source our goods directly from friendly truffle farmers from Piedmont, Umbria or Abruzzo. Through short distribution channels, we can always deliver fresh truffles of excellent quality. Our truffle oil in particular is well known and popular with all professional chefs.”
Today we offer more than 600 durable and fresh delicatessen products. In every single product the love for good taste, friendship and the values of our producer network are palpable. Our company logo also stands for the family and the good taste. It shows our mother, Ruth Anna-Maria Hellriegel, and our first product, the Olive.