Konditorei Stehwien not only produces the well-known "Nährstange" bars but also a wide range of confectionery
Interview with Olaf Stehwien
Sustainable confectionery from Tangermünde
With passion and dedication since 1899 – Konditorei Stehwien not only produces the "Nährstange" bar but also delivers confectionery all over the world. Almost everyone in the Altmark and Tangermünde knows the Konditorei Stehwien. Olaf Stehwien took over the company that became known for its "Nährstange" bars and even sells his confectionery internationally.
Olaf Stehwien is actually a graduate engineer, today he is successfully continuing his family’s tradition. As an engineer he worked for various companies, was involved in various construction projects. But he doesn't like having to permanently travel so much because he actually prefers being in his homeland, the Altmark. "I grew up in the village, with the animals and the village community. And this big, wide sky and I simply like the not too many people. I'd probably have a hard time anywhere else. I had to see what I could do here, and there was no alternative to self-employment." His family’s name is closely linked to the confectioners, which has been producing the "Tangermünder Nährstange" since 1985. However, these were forgotten after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when many new sweets and other bars were launched on the market. For a few years he works two jobs and in 2000 he receives EU funding for a new production facility. At this time he decides to quit his job and return to the production of the "Nährstange" bar with a few employees. "Everyone advised me against this. Are you mad, just one product and it's as expensive as a Mars bar! I did it anyway, and it worked for me." Nevertheless, it was not always easy, the market for confectionery is highly competitive and food production in Germany is very difficult. As a small manufacturer, you are not only competing with the large corporations but retail chains negotiate very tough prices. But Olaf Stehwien would make the same decision again. "I am simply an entrepreneur by nature."
He likes initiating his own projects, experimenting and developing new products. For example, there has been a demand for organic and vegan products for a few years now. For him, these are two important trends in the food sector that cannot be ignored and must be tapped into. "We now have even more vegan products going out into the world than what we're known for here." Olaf Stehwien attaches great importance to buying natural products, ideally in organic quality. "So we use ingredients that are as pure as possible, which we also play around with as little as possible to get a product that we can eat with a clear conscience." Sustainability is also very important to him. "This growth mania can't go on forever, you should focus more on quality and not just on the number you produce." As an entrepreneur, he is of course subject to the market but he thinks that you should use the leeway you have responsibly. On his production site there are photovoltaic systems, with which all the production was even possible at the beginning and they also fed in electricity. In the meantime, the company has grown even more and a combined heat and power unit was added. He also pays attention to compostable packaging and works with local partners. He does not see the Altmark as a region that has been left behind. "We shouldn't throw shade on ourselves like this," he says. He sees a great opportunity particularly in the expansion of the Internet. "Of course, it doesn't count for production, but in many professions you can work anywhere. And if it doesn't matter where I am, I can find a nice place in the Altmark outside the big city."