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Loacker: Made in Italy high-altitude goodness

From the mountains of Tyrol, they have been delighting our palates with crispy wafers with a thousand fillings for almost 100 years. A family history that spans three generations.

reading time5 minutes

Who does not remember the jingle sung by the friendly gnomes “Veniamo giù dai monti / dai monti del Tirolo / Cantiamo tutti in coro Loacker che bontà” (We come down from the mountains / the mountains of Tyrol / Let’s all sing in chorus how good Loacker is)? Undoubtedly, their likeability helped Loacker to establish itself on the market in the 1980s, but the company’s history begins much earlier, to be precise back in 1925 when Alfons Loacker, born in 1901, at only 25, managed to buy the pastry shop in Bolzano, where he had worked since he was a boy and start his own business, with the help of only two employees. Yes, because Loacker, which many think of as an Austrian company, is actually an all-Italian company born from Alfons Loacker’s talent and determination.

From Bolzano Wafers to Napolitaner Wafers

Alfons specialised in the production of the ‘Bolzano wafer’, a crispy, wafer-thin pastry decorated with a design reminiscent of a beehive lattice and filled with creams. Its best quality is that it stays crumbly for a long time. It is a simple-looking cake in the tradition of the famous wafers, whose origin is lost in time.

The word wafer, in fact, comes from waba, a term of uncertain origin (Anglo-Saxon or Germanic) indicating the honeycomb or beehive, as suggested by the wafer’s print. Wafers, after all, seem to have ancestors all over Europe: from the Belgian gaufre biscuit with its typical lattice shape to the larger, softer German waffle, all sharing a lattice design. Among the South Tyrolean confectioner’s most popular creations are hazelnut cream wafers called ‘napolitaner’ because they are made exclusively with hazelnuts from the province of Naples, considered the best.

A high-altitude company

In 1958, his son Armin joined the company as production manager and expanded the business. The turning point, however, came in the 1960s when, with the automated wafer oven, production grew exponentially, and export took its first steps thanks to the ‘freshness-saving’ packaging. True to the motto: ‘A natural product is produced in a natural environment’, Armin opened a new factory in 1974 in Auna di Sotto, a thousand metres above sea level on the Renon plateau.

Today, Loacker Spa maintains its headquarters in Auna di Sotto (BZ) and has a new plant at Heinfsel in East Tyrol.. At the helm of the company is the third generation of the family, with Ulrich Zuenelli (Alfons’ grandson) as CEO, Andreas Loacker as Head of Development and Martin Loacker as Chairman of the Board.

The numbers of success

With over 1,000 employees, the company produces 38,000 tonnes of wafers each year using only Italian hazelnuts. Loacker ended 2022 with global sales of 418 million euros, up +12% compared to 2021 and +52% compared to the last decade. It is available in over 100 countries, and Saudi Arabia is its second-largest market after Italy. It is also expanding strongly in China and America.

A sustainable supply chain

One of the company’s strengths is undoubtedly its sustainable supply chain, which now includes several projects to set new standards for using raw materials in the context of ecological and social responsibility. These include the Noccioleti Italiani project, which involves the regions of Veneto, Umbria, Tuscany and Marche, and the Cocoa Farming Program, through which Loacker supports – in cooperation with Altromercato in Ecuador and Sucden and Agroforce in the Ivory Coast – the local cocoa producers from whom it sources cocoa. Also worth highlighting are the 100% Alpine milk project, for milk produced from animals fed with non-GMO feed, and the Bourbon vanilla project in Madagascar, thanks to which Loacker works daily alongside small Malagasy farmers to make fair and sustainable vanilla.

Congratulations to those who bring the flavours and values of the mountains and Made in Italy wafers to the world.

Learn about other outstanding Trentino-Alto Adige products.