History & today
The history of the Champignon-Hofmeister Group
What started more than 100 years ago with a good idea dreamt up by cheesemakers Julius Hirschle and Käsehändler Leopold Immler and is now exported from four German
locations to 55 countries worldwide, cannot be described as anything other than a success story. A love for the trade, the highest quality standards and the courage to innovate is what saw its multi-generational development from a small dairy into today’s Champignon-Hofmeister Group – setting countless new milestones throughout its long history.
Popular brands, top-quality cheese specialities and a long tradition – that is what distinguishes the Champignon-Hofmeister Group. True to its motto ‘Aus Lust am Genießen’/’From a love of indulgence’, the Lauben-based (Upper Allgäu) Group has made a name for itself as a leading producer of soft speciality cheese and milk as well as dairy derivatives and has had success with famous brands like CHAMPIGNON, ROUGETTE, CAMBOZOLA, St. Mang and ALPAVIT, among others.
Champignon-Hofmeister key figures
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Find out more about our history
1908: How it all started
Cheesemaker Julius Hirschle and cheese trader Leopold Immler found the Champignon dairy in Heising (Allgäu). Julius Hirschle develops a Camembert with a completely new flavour after intensive studies at various overseas dairies. This cheese is characterised by a special creaminess and a delicate, aromatic mushroom fragrance. Hirschle and Immler call it ‘Champignon Camembert’ and design and patent the famous mushroom logo: Champignon Camembert is one of the first brand products of the German dairy industry.
1914: With Camembert the company grows
The Champignon dairy now has 40 members of staff; they process 8,000 litres of fresh Allgäu milk into Champignon Camembert daily. Because it looks, smells and tastes so good, Champignon Camembert wins the DLG prize for the first time.
1931: Ship ahoi! Champignon travels to the Tropics
Champignon Camembert travels to a test in the Tropics on the steamer Tanganjika. Germany’s most popular Camembert skirts the entirety of Africa packaged in tin cans. The cheese testers are stunned during the testing: the cheese has matured gently and actually improved in taste: export test passed with flying colours!
1939: Germany’s number one
Champignon Camembert is Germany’s most sold Camembert brand. The Champignon lorry delivers its fine goods to every region in Germany. The dairy now processes 40,000 litres of milk a day.
1951: Expansion and extension of fields of business
The Hofmeister family takes over the 1938-founded Ostenrieder dairy in Moosburg and renames it the Hofmeister cheese factory. In Moosburg an der Isar and, since 1992, in neighbouring Pfeffenhausen too, the factory produces processed cheese, noble mould cheese, sandwich spread/cream for the catering trade and the wholesale consumption as well as international retail. These also produce roller-dried whole milk powder as well as roller-dried, customer-specific dairy products.
1961: A new generation takes over
A new era at the Champignon dairy: Brothers Josef and Georg Hofmeister take over the company. The art of cheesemaking is in their blood. Their father before them, an Allgäu artisanal cheesemaker, was famed for his cheesemaking. Josef and Georg Hofmeister continue to drive forward the development of the company: with entrepreneurial vision, smart brand strategies and major motivational drive. The following year, Champignon dairy was the first cheese brand to advertise on the new form of mass media that was TV.
1980: CAMBOZOLA captures the spirit of the times CAMBOZOLA launches on the market and captures the taste of a new era: with soft creaminess and delicate refined blue cultures. The soft cheese with refined cultures conquered the hearts of consumers, and cheese counters throughout the country.
1981: New brands appear
Käserei Champignon presents ROUGETTE Landkäse. With its delicate spicy taste and its distinctive creaminess it wastes no time winning the hearts and palates of cheese-lovers. The creation combines the best of both worlds with sophistication: the spicy ride and white rind of a red culture cheese with the mild dough of white refined cultures.
1987: Mang cheese factory – takeover by the Hofmeister family
In May 1987 the Hofmeister family takes over the Mang cheese factory in Kammlach (Lower Allgäu) and transforms it strategically. The core values remain intact: innovative artisanal cheesemaking, originality and traditional, honest indulgence. To this day, the Allgäu originals from St. Mang are the market leaders in the segment of red-culture cheese.
1989: A new field of business: Baby food and whey derivatives
In 1989 Käserei Champignon comes together with ALPAVIT to found an independent profit centre in Heising to meet the industry's high demand for whey products. Today, ALPAVIT refines around 950 million litres of milk and whey into high-quality specialist products for the industry annually. ALPAVIT is a popular brand among leading international manufacturers of baby food, confectionery, foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals.
1992: A real peak performer
Mountaineer Sepp Hanholzer conquers the den 8,034 metre-high Gasherbrum II in the Himalayas. The necessary power for the climb? Supplier to him by Champignon Camembert! Hanholzner has no less than 50 tins in his bag.
1998: Honoured by the king of chefs
King of chefs Paul Bocuse awards CAMBOZOLA speciality soft cheese the highest accolade: 3 stars.
2000: Into the millennium with a state-of-the-art dairy
Käserei Champignon opens one of the most modern production facilities for soft cheese in Europe in the form of the 2000 dairy. Up to 300,000 litres of milk are processed into the finest brand cheese daily here – a place where product developers and master cheesemakers alike can innovate to their heart’s content.
2001: Trend overview: hot cheese specialities tap into new target groups
ROUGETTE oven cheese turns enjoying cheese into a social experience. And Käserei Champignon predicates a new segment entirely: hot cheese dishes.
2008: 100 years of tradition under a new guise
Käserei Champignon celebrates its 100th birthday – not that you’d ever guess. The packaging of traditional brand Champignon Camembert has been updated specially for the occasion and dazzles with a new look. Master cheesemakers have passed on the traditional recipe from generation to generation and continually refined it. But in 100 years what makes it special has not changed – the unmistakable, pure taste of Champignon Camembert.
2012: Innovation on the market: ROUGETTE cheese specialities now available to barbecue too
The launch of ROUGETTE creamy barbecue cheese sees the dairy conquer the barbecue segment. The naturally matured soft cheese with heat-resistant consistency and creaminess has just landed on German barbecues – and now the dairy has won awards for this innovation.
2015: More space for high-quality whey derivatives
Storage capacity needs for ALPAVIT products are growing by the day; the construction of a new high-bay storage facility sees the pallet storage spaces double from 3,000 to 6,000. The new volume corresponds to approx. 200 lorry loads and has generated even more flexibility in shipping.
2017: Full-steam ahead towards a more green and efficient future
The construction of a gas turbine on the roof of the boiler house is completed at the Heising site. Together with the newbuild of an industrial cogeneration power station, the technology for which is normally used for large-scale power plants, the development allows for the simultaneous and permanent use of heat and electricity and increases the share of self-produced electricity from 30% to approx. 75%.
This highly efficient use of energy via cogeneration has an efficiency of up to 90%.
2018: Towards more sustainability with organic whey
ALPAVIT taps into a new source of raw materials with organically certified whey,
thus extending its product range, the share of which is growing continually. Organic milk alone is used to generate this natural product.
2021: Champignon Nordics founded
A distribution and marketing organisation is founded for the northern European market, the focus of which is on the know-how of local employees in addition to CU items. This “on-site” engagement has increased flexibility significantly and customer requirements can now be better fulfilled using local know-how.
2023: Want to join us on our success story?
On the career page of the Champignon-Hofmeister Group
you will find the latest vacancies at our national and international locations. Work for a company that units family values and innovative vision, and work toward a successful future with us.