In 2013, company founders Anne and Stefan Lemke from Hamburg took a leap of faith and designed their own brand – and, in 2016, appeared on the German TV network VOX’s programme “Die Höhle der Löwen” (Dragons’ Den) with their Ankerkraut flavor manufacturing company. They impressed the investor, Frank Thelen, with their concept to develop unique spices and present them in an appealing jar with a cork stopper. The start-up quickly gained momentum and now enjoys international recognition. With catchy product names like Pull That Piggy, Teufelskerl (Son of a Gun) or Bang Boom Bang, this company from Hamburg has become a true rockstar of the food scene. 

The tremendous demand was not only reflected in a continually growing product range, but also in higher production figures. It was therefore no surprise that, in 2022, the time had come to modernise their machinery. The success of Ankerkraut products is not only down to their quality and taste, but also a result of their extraordinary design and packaging. The iconic corked jar with a tamper-evident seal above the front and back label are its hallmark. To ensure that the consumers of the future are also provided with a perfectly centred seal, this taste manufacturer chose a new labeller from the Bavarian manufacturing company, Gernep.

Best equipped for precise labelling

The collaboration ran like clockwork right from the beginning. “In fact, it was a veritable coming together of two companies who shared a passion. Several months of talks containing mutual recommendations lay between the initial joint discussions and the ultimate configuration of the machine,” Martin Hammerschmid, Managing Director of Gernep GmbH, remembers. Customised to meet the requirements of the taste manufacturer, a Gernep Soluta 9-720 3SK SD with three self-adhesive label dispensers was produced. The Soluta is a true all-rounder and handles both the familiar corked jars and PET shakers filled mainly with dry marinades – the so-called BBQ rubs. The rubs are decorated with a front and back label, with the jars additionally receiving a tamper-evident label over the cork. The Soluta can also be used to apply promotional labels for special marketing campaigns.

During the label development stage, the focus was on the visual appearance of the iconic Ankerkrauf corked jar, a factor which will be further optimised in the future. The objective was to apply the tamper-evident label in a perfectly centred position in relation to the corked jar’s front and back labels. To do so, Gernep designed an orientation device which was perfectly tailored to the customer’s needs and which aligns the label using the embossing on the jars as a guide. Two infeed starwheels were planned to position the tamper-evident label right in the middle. The orientation is performed in the first starwheel with the subsequent starwheel used for the application of the tamper-evident label onto the container closure from above. The containers are then held in place with a clamping mechanism and transferred to the machine’s labelling carrousel. There, a centring cup is lowered onto the corked jar and securely clamped for the precise transfer of the front and back labels.

All of the labels are applied with cab IXOR self-adhesive label applicators. The labelling devices were developed in a joint collaboration between Gernep and cab, and have since optimally established themselves on the market. At Ankerkraut, up to 8,000 containers per hour are handled both continuously and fully automatically. A P.E. sensor registers every container, which then starts each individual label application procedure. The containers brought onto the market by the taste manufacturer thus conform to state and food-industry regulations. Consumer protection, quality assurance and traceability are important arguments. With this in mind, variable data such as the shelf lives and batch identification numbers are printed into the back labels of the Ankerkraut products directly in the labeller. 

In addition to the taste, the role played by product labels remains an increasingly important factor and the spice market is greatly disputed nowadays. In Gernep, Ankerkraut has found a reliable partner to help it cater to consistently newly emerging market trends. The products are available from the online shop, Amazon, the extensive range found in retail outlets and specialist stores in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, as well as in their own flagship stores. Armed with a great deal of enthusiasm, the Ankerkraut taste manufacturing company has progressed from being an outstanding start-up to a successful, mature company with revenues in the double-digit million range.