HOCHDORF has shaped the history of Swiss condensed milk

Condensed milk symbolises Switzerland. Like chocolate or cheese, it is part of our tradition and history. As one of the pioneers of condensed milk production, HOCHDORF has featured in the childhood memories of many generations.

HOCHDORF has shaped the history of Swiss condensed milk for almost 120 years

Many of us have fond childhood memories of condensed milk. Like coming home from school and secretly opening the fridge to squeeze some sweetness directly from the tube into our mouth! Or when we watched our grandparents sweetening their afternoon coffee or tea with condensed milk.

But is condensed milk just a relic from the old days, consigned to the album of our memories? Not at all!
Condensed milk has long since found its way into the 21st century and is a favourite ingredient in lots of recipes around the world. It is used in the production of various desserts, pastries, caramels and praline fillings. Or as an ingredient in crispy biscuits.

HOCHDORF – there from the start

In Switzerland, HOCHDORF was one of the first condensed milk producers. We have been writing history (successfully) for almost 120 years and this traditional product, with its delicate caramel aroma, is still a fixed part of our Dairy Ingredients portfolio today. We produce condensed milk for the food industry under the “SUCREM” brand and also for retailing in tubes under the simple, traditional German name of "Kondensmilch".

We can't be sure of the year that HOCHDORF first produced condensed milk. It was probably around 1905, because the Lucerna chocolate factory, based in Hochdorf (1905 – 1911) , was one of the major customers for condensed milk and milk powder at the time. The HOCHDORF expertise, with the production of sterilised milk in cans since 1895, facilitated the start of condensed milk production around 1905.

Overcoming difficult times since 1895 thanks to branded products

HOCHDORF has been active in the international arena since its beginnings, even with condensed milk. In 1912 we supplied condensed milk to the British Navy, the largest fleet in the world at the time. After the World War I, the export market largely collapsed due to the high Swiss milk price and Switzerland no longer exports condensed milk.

While other Swiss producers gradually abandoned their condensed milk business, we were able to survive despite the difficult market conditions.

In the 1930s we succeeded in entering the Swiss retail market with our "Pilatus" brand, which we offered in tubes and cans.

Out on a limb

After the 1980s, HOCHDORF remained the only company in Switzerland to produce condensed milk for end consumers and industry. The food industry was a vital pillar that ensured the survival of our condensed milk business with high order volumes. For price reasons, Swiss food manufacturers purchased condensed milk from abroad. The most important and one of the very few purchasers of Swiss condensed milk for industrial production in the 1990s was Halter Bonbons AG. Their caramel sweets kept our condensed milk business alive.

As one of the pioneers of condensed milk production, HOCHDORF has featured in the childhood memories of many generations.

Apart from HOCHDORF, there was only one other condensed milk producer in Switzerland – Alicommerce in Liebefeld. Rather than producing the condensed milk itself, the company imported the product and filled it into tubes to sell in Switzerland. However, the Swiss industrial market was entirely in the hands of HOCHDORF. And has remained so to this day.

In June 1990, HOCHDORF decided to discontinue the production and sale of Pilatus condensed milk in Switzerland: the last 250-gram tube left the production line that once handled nine different can and tube sizes of sweetened and unsweetened condensed milk. This was preceded by years of price wars between foreign low-priced brands. From this time on, we produced condensates exclusively for large customers on our production plants.

The longed-for turnaround in the condensed milk business

When the authorities decided to increase the import duties for condensed milk to protect Swiss suppliers from foreign competition, the appeal of purchasing condensed milk abroad for industrial and retail purposes suddenly diminished. HOCHDORF, as the only Swiss producer of condensed milk, was back in business – with order volumes increasing dramatically. Our industrial market was saved. HOCHDORF once again supplied renowned Swiss companies with condensed milk, including Alicommerce SA, which sold the well-known blue condensed milk tubes in the retail trade.

Tube of condensed milk produced by HOCHDORF

In January 2017 HOCHDORF took over the brand and sales of condensed milk tubes from Alicommerce SA. Since then, HOCHDORF has again had its own brand, the blue tube, on the shelves of Swiss supermarkets.

The revival of condensed milk tubes marks the next stage in our history. We are thrilled to delight future generations with our fine condensed milk again and provide a whole host of new happy memories. One thing is certain – condensed milk has been used to create many wonderful recipes that will never be forgotten.

Try one of our delicious condensed milk recipes here.

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