More than 50 years of Schne-frost’s success story

Or: How the potato became a superstar

Almost 60 years of company history – Schne-frost takes a look back. Far more than half a century. And many more exciting years lie ahead. The history began with a wholesale business for seed and potatoes, today the company is an innovative production company for frozen potato and vegetable specialities.

Ernst-Rainer Schnetkamp is the owner and managing director of Schne-frost and is the second generation to run the company. His belief: Innovation, quality and service.

Early 1950s
From the Agricultural College directly to the Oldenburg Chamber of Agriculture where the then 28-year-old farmer Ernst Schnetkamp had already worked for several years in potato farming. Main theme: Certification of seeds. Gradually, the idea grows to set up a separate company for the cultivation of seed potatoes and seed propagation.

Ernst Schnetkamp takes the plunge into self-employment and founds a wholesale business for seed and ware potatoes: the Südoldenburger Kartoffelhaus. The potatoes are sorted and processed on the parents' farm in Evenkamp near Löningen. The nucleus of today's company..

To improve efficiency, a sorting plant is built at the old goods station in Löningen. Modern plants collect, sort and prepare seed potatoes, which are stored and dispatched. The company soon becomes one of the leading companies in the region. Schnetkamp also revolutionises the market with its contract farming system. The idea: Bulk consumers place their orders months before the harvest. While they calculate with fixed prices, farmers have secure purchase guarantees at harvest time.

Germans are consuming less and less staple foods such as potatoes, and meat, eggs, vegetables and fruit are being served instead. Potato farming and the demand for seed potatoes are declining – especially in the Südoldenburg region. Ernst Schnetkamp sees this development as a challenge, not a problem. He recognises the potential of the conventional potato and the opportunities to produce new marketable products.

Early 1960s
Deep freeze food and preserve all the nutrients at the same time: this form of preservation is now finding its way into Germany. Ernst Schnetkamp ventures the step into a new business segment. But: before a product can be launched on the market, there are many experiments that have to be carried out, technical facilities have to be planned and built, a suitable freezing process has to be found.

The Südoldenburger Kartoffelhaus is growing and in fact around the production and storage of frozen potato products. The popular German potato pancake is the first product to be manufactured here as an industrial product. Modern production facilities process the fresh potatoes into frozen products around the clock. Real pioneering work for the company and the region. 1963 also sees the creation of the company's own trademark: the birth of "Schne-frost". The play on words from the terms "Schnetkamp" and "frosting": the snow (Schne(e)) brings the frost – and frozen food.

The Schnetkamp company is entered in the commercial register under the new name "Schne-frost". "Schne-frost" potato products are so successful on the market that production capacity is soon tripled.

Because production at the old goods station is too small, a new plant is built in Löningen. The production facilities are planned from the very beginning based on the latest findings in the food industry and on the basis of the many years of experience at the parent plant. Ernst Schnetkamp personally contributed many ideas for rational process engineering.

1969 bis 2007
12 production lines are gradually put into operation in the new plant from 1969 to 2007.

A separate department for development and sensor technology is set up in the newly occupied Plant II – one of the company's success factors. Schne-frost establishes itself as one of the leading product developers on the European market over the following years.

A new production hall for potato specialities is built, along with four new production lines..

The new Dr. Schnetkamp/AVITA brand is founded.

Early 1990s
The quality sorting of whole potatoes and the cut products made from them was still a real manual task up to 1990. At the beginning of the 1990s, computer-controlled optical sorting systems were gradually introduced on every production line, leading to faster, more efficient and more effective work.

A new fully automatic, computer-controlled deep-freeze high-bay warehouse with about 7,000 pallet spaces is put into operation.

Two unique potato pancake grills and a dumpling line are built. Today, the Schne-frost factory premises cover an area of approximately 100,000 square meters, of which 30,000 square meters are currently built on. 70,000 tonnes of finished goods are produced every year.

The first ORGANIC production starts one year before this. A new plant is put into operation for these products and for fat-reduced goods in the next step.

A new potato sorting plant is built and put into operation. Its capacity is 79 tonnes per hour.

Having previously purchased a modern hot water storage system and completed the new construction of the social area, the company restructures and expands its international activities. Investments in optical sorting and robot technology on the French fries production line mark another milestone in the company's history.

The future also means: sustainability. Schne-frost is therefore commissioning two new gas turbines to generate electricity from biogas in the sewage treatment plant.

In the course of reorganization and company growth, the management team was expanded to three members effective April 1, 2019. Torsten Neumann (Marketing, Sales and Product Development) and Marten Schlender (Factories and Supply Chain Management) were appointed.

- Commissioning of a new logistics hall
- Construction of a new speciality line

- Installation of a photovoltaic system on the new logistics hall - this enables it to be operated in a climate-neutral manner
- Commissioning of two additional hot water tanks
- Increase in production volume through a new deep fryer
- Construction of a new waterworks

The long-standing partnership with national and international customers in the industrial business, home service and food service has contributed to Schne-frost being one of the most innovative companies with the highest quality standards in the sector of frozen potato specialities with around 250 products and recipes.