Roland Munhowen has been at the helm of the “Moutarderie de Luxembourg” for some 17 years. Speaking to wort.lu/en, he explained what challenges the company faces, how it is preparing for the future and what the Made in Luxembourg label means to the business.
The first mustard company in Luxembourg opened for business in 1922 and in 1976 it was bought by the Munhowen family who developed the "Moutarderie de Luxembourg" brand. In 2000 Roland Munhowen bought the business from his siblings and since then runs it together with his son Yann.
Tell us about your product
We produce around 230 tonnes of mustard every year. This includes the "original" mustard which follows the same recipe as in 1922, but also other types, such as the "moutarde forte" and "moutarde à l'ancienne" and organic mustard.
Since the 1980s we also make mayonnaise. Earlier this year we launched two new products – our ketchup and "Andalouse" sauce, developed by my son. All products come in different sizes for customers to choose from. Last year we changed the look of our brand, making a radical change to bring all items together under the same label. It was a certain risk but the feedback has been positive.
What does the Made in Luxembourg label mean to you?
The label stands for local products, with local production sites and recipes following Luxembourg tradition. It is very important to us. We don't just bottle our products here but they are made on site. We are well-known in Luxembourg, but nonetheless the label reminds people of our attachment to the country. We were among the first companies to get the label after it was introduced.
What are the advantages and challenges of running a business out of Luxembourg?
I was lucky to have the opportunity to take over the family business, which was already established and had a solid market share, from my parents. We can make quick decisions and distances at administrative level are short, although there can be delays, for example for new production unit authorisations. At the same time we operate in a country of 550,000 people.
The smallest machines on the market are built for production for three to ten million. Our suppliers for ingredients and packaging, too, usually sell to big companies. We are a small customer and therefore need to keep a lot of our orders in stock. That is a challenge being in the food business in a small country.
What is your favourite Made in Luxembourg product or service?
For breakfast, with my coffee, I like to eat bread with "Kachkéis" (a local type of cheese spread) by Luxlait with Luxembourg mustard. But I also like to try our competitors to see how they compare.
What product or service do you think is missing from Luxembourg?
The services industry can operate on a smaller scale and with fewer investments, but I think it would be good for the country to also have industrial production sites with the potential to sell abroad. For example, we had a request to rent a warehouse to a company building small aircraft. In the end it didn't materialise because of funding.
I also have a tenant who imports parts for electronic toys, then ships them abroad for assembling and brings them back to Luxembourg for distribution. We have good logistics and Luxembourg could do really well in that area.
For more information visit www.moutarderie.lu