Hennig-Olsen Is AS

Cream of the crop

With a total market share in Norway of approximately 48 per cent in 2015, family-owned and operated ice cream factory Hennig-Olsen Is AS is renowned for the quality and fine flavour of its range of ice cream products

Aproud annual producer of 27 million litres of ice cream, Hennig-Olsen has developed an exemplary reputation within the Norwegian market thanks to its long-term experience in ice cream development and production. With branch offices in Oslo, Haugesund, Bergen, Mold, Trondheim and Tromso, the 250 strong company boasts a turnover of 100 million euros, which is mainly through delivery of products throughout Norway, as well as exports to Murmansk, Russia. Today the company delivers premium quality ice cream in a wide range of flavours to its target customer base – retail and supermarkets, kiosks, petrol stations and HORECA. The success of the ice cream in the market is based on the inclusion of quality ingredients such as fruits and berries, chocolate, nuts, coffee, yogurt, and syrup as well as specials that include egg liquer, Oreo biscuits and Daim chocolate bars. Hennig-Olsen also sells ice cream in single and multipacks, desserts, yogurts, cake, sprinkles and sauces.

“Hennig-Olsen’s ice cream factory was founded on the 5th May 1924 by Sven Hennig-Olsen, who spent four years in the US trying different crafts and jobs,” begins Paal Hennig-Olsen CEO and Managing Director at Hennig- Olsen. It was in Chicago that Sven mastered how to make ice cream the professional way and made plans to emigrate permanently, however, upon hearing from his girlfriend in Norway, he returned to his home country with ice cream producing equipment and a book full of recipes. “When Sven began the business in 1924 he sold tobacco, chocolates, fruits and ice cream. Naturally, he developed the business over the years by investing in new techniques and machines; he also began to manufacture sticks and tubs apart from the scooping products.”

With Sven’s death in 1945, his wife Ebba took over the business for eight years until Otto Hennig-Olsen, Paal’s father, took over in 1953. From this moment the company underwent further development, including its relocation to Kristiansand, which resulted in steady growth and the company reaching national distribution and a market share of 25 per cent in the 1980s. It was during this successful decade that Paal and his brother began working for Hennig-Olsen, with a focus on expansion, the development of new products and the acquisition of new machinery; alongside this, the brothers were keen to build on the brand of Hennig-Olsen as well as its different sub brands.

“In 1997 I took over as Managing Director; that year we had a fantastic summer and sales rocketed, unfortunately 1998 was the opposite with lousy weather and dropping sales. This was a challenging start for a young man, but I have continued to develop the company ever since. In 2012 we put down our own distribution and sold 100 ice cream trucks; distribution is now through wholesalers to all channels, including supermarkets such as Norges Gruppen, Shell and Esso; kiosks such as Mix and the catering sector,” explains Paal. “In fact, we have about 55 per cent of the market share in the food service segment in general.”

Throughout 2015 the company has enjoyed a market share of 48 per cent, with many Norwegians choosing Hennig-Olsen products such as ice cream cakes, soft scoop ice cream, soft-ice mix and milkshake mix over competitors. Key to the company maintaining its competitive edge in the market is the fact it is a family business, which means family values, faster decision making processes, a mutual dedication to success and, perhaps most importantly, loyal and enthusiastic colleagues. Additionally, Hennig Olsen focuses on craftsmanship in all areas of production and regularly invests in new equipment and facilities. “We have seven production lines, a mixing department, our own chocolate production area, and our own production of ripple sauces and nougat. We also have a cold store with 10,000 pallet capacity, an R&D department and well-trained production and technical staff.”

This focus on product development and quality has led to the release of two new products, Dugg Frozen Yogurt Frozen Sorbets, which are a healthier option with low fat content, and Inspira. “These products are a series of 0.5 litre tubs, with frozen yogurt at 1.2 per cent fat and 40 per cent yogurt and a fat free frozen sorbet,” confirms Paal. “Meanwhile, Inspira is a series of luxury ice creams with lots of goodies inside.” Examples within this range of premium ice creams include berries, peanuts and caramel, and cookie dough.

In 2015 the company further proved its capabilities in ice cream production to the extreme when it unveiled the world’s largest ice cream cone ever made at the start of the Tall Ships Race at Kristianstad. Approximately 9000 people witnessed the feat, with the ice cream measuring 3.08 metres from top to bottom and consisting of 40 litres of homemade ligonberry jam and 1080 litres of vanilla ice cream as well as 60 litres of chocolate; moreover, the biscuit cone alone weighed in at 75 kg. Discussing the world record, Paal states: “After a lot of testing, failing and discussion, we succeeded with the help of an engineer with long-term experience from the oil-service industry who did the difficult calculations with regards to height, weight and creating the mould.”

Benefiting from the loyalty of the Norwegian consumer, going forward Hennig-Olsen will be focusing on boosting efficiency within all areas of operation and continuing to develop new innovations for the market. “We also want to continue enjoying organic growth by exploring consumer and customer needs before transforming them into new products,” concludes Paal.