Rapunzel Naturkost:
40 Years Organics With Love

When Joseph Wilhelm and his former wife Jennifer Vermeulen started to mix muesli in a bathtub 40 years ago, they would have never thought that RAPUNZEL would develop into an international organic food manufacturer.

Like all big stories, the RAPUNZEL story also started out small. The focus of Joseph Wilhelm back then was the production of muesli and nutspreads and the procurement and distribution of health food products such as bread, fruit and vegetable from organic cultivation. Today, RAPUNZEL markets every year about 12,000 tons of organic food in all the world and more than 450 products - half of which are processed or manufactured in Legau/Allgäu.

The biggest challenge of such a development is the challenge of remaining true to one’s principles. Joseph Wilhelm managed to do just that! All his actions are still inspired by the basic idea of promoting and supporting organic agriculture – beyond Germany and Europe.

Especially important was the procurement of raw materials in sufficiently high organic quality. To this end, Joseph Wilhelm founded the so-called RAPUNZEL projects. In 1976, the first RAPUNZEL project started in Turkey with organic dried fruit and nuts; a few years later, coconuts started to be grown in Sri Lanka.

Along the entire chain, from the field to the finished product, RAPUNZEL advises farmers and producers – over time, a joint venture will develop. But also social and political aspects are taken into consideration. Today, RAPUNZEL procures organic raw materials from nearly 40 countries worldwide and the organic RAPUNZEL products can be bought in almost as many countries.

Combining economic success and social responsibility

Since its foundation, Rapunzel has been combining economic success and social responsibility for customers, employees and suppliers. Particular attention is paid to the relations with producers from the so-called “developing countries”.

This was the motivation for the first “HAND IN HAND” projects that connect organic agriculture and fair trade. Since the 1990s, the range of products that is marketed under the “HAND IN HAND” label has increased to 87 products. Part of the purchase price of “HAND IN HAND” products is donated to a fund that is administered by the German Environmental Aid (DUH). Since 1998, 112 projects around the world were supported with a total sum of almost 460,000 Euro.

In Tanzania, for example, a classroom was built for the children of coffee growers and in Bolivia the fund money was used to equip houses with water tanks and solar panels. With this commitment, Rapunzel improves the living conditions in developing countries and demonstrates that consumers can choose to take responsibility for the producers’ situation with the kind of food they buy.

During the many years of cooperation with the “HAND IN HAND” partners and through the many projects that were funded by Rapunzel, a new idea began to grow. Joseph Wilhelm initiated the “ONE WORLD AWARD”. This award honors people and initiatives who are committed to making globalization a positive experience and who help to make the world a little bit better day after day. The award should also be encouragement that everyone can contribute his or her part to this great goal.