As many a tourist to Austria can tell you, Mirabell Mozartkugel are round, layered chocolate pralines with a pistachio marzipan center, wrapped in gold foil with Mozart’s face on it, and presented in burgundy boxes. Now the chocolates, famously sold at souvenir shops and in supermarkets around the country or served up at balls, weddings and other events, may be melting down. Salzburg Schokolade, the Grödig-based confectioners who make Mozartkugel (Mozart balls), are set to enter insolvency proceedings at the regional court in Salzburg today, reports say.
(There are two companies that make a product called “Mozartkugel” in Salzburg, both beloved of tourists – the other brand, “Original Salzburger Mozartkugel”, are made by the company Fürst and feature blue lettering on a silver package.)
Some 140 Salzburg Schokolade employees and a three-figure number of creditors are affected. A letter from CEO Christian Schügerl to employees and partners, APA reported, indicated that they hope to be able to continue operations. Although the company was able to generate profit in previous years, Der Standard reported, the company was hit hard by the pandemic in 2020.
As tourists, events and parties fell away, the demand for confections declined and revenue dropped, an effect worsened by the shuttering of candy shops in Vienna and Salzburg. Though business briefly look set to recover in 2021, with new export customers abroad, it wasn’t enough, Der Standard quoted Salzburg Schokolade CEO Christian Schügerl as saying. He ascribed the insolvency decision to the new lockdown along with the rising cost of raw materials, energy, salaries, logistics and packaging – and filed for insolvency on Monday.
The company was unable to pay November salaries – including the additional Christmas payouts – and referred staff to the Arbeiterkammer (Chamber of Labor), which supports unpaid employees at insolvent companies with obtaining payment through a state-secured insolvency fund. The head of the Chamber in Salzburg, Peter Eder, announced his support for those employees on Monday evening, and said they would launch the necessary paperwork processes as soon as a liquidator is named. Their goal was for staff to make it through the Christmas season “without financial worries”.
Salzburg Schokolade is known for several retail confection brands, and exclusively produces “Echte Salzburger Mozartkugel” (Genuine Salzburg Mozartkugel) for the U.S. American corporation Mondelez, under the brand name Mirabell. The company is also a wholeseller of semifinished confectionary products such as nougat, marzipan, glazes or couverture. Founded in 1897 under the name Rajsigel in Salzburg, the company moved to Grödig in 1956.