Vetropack and Kotányi’s innovative herb and spice mill: a story of constant evolution
Austrian herb and spice manufacturer Kotányi tapped into the spirit of the times by introducing its ergonomically shaped herb and spice mill with an integrated grinder. The grinding mechanism has been improved over the years and – thanks to glass packaging manufacturer Vetropack – the weight of the mill itself has also been steadily reduced to make it more sustainable from 127 to 108 grams, while capacity increased from 97 ml to 101 ml.
More or less everyone in Austria is familiar with Kotányi’s iconic herb and spice mill. Thanks to its distinctive shape – reminiscent of an hourglass – and its built-in grinder, it is a perfect match for 21st-century cooking habits: a mill that makes herbs and spices accessible in a special way.
The mills are produced by Kotányi, an Austrian company that can look back on a long tradition; and the glass containers for them have been supplied by the Swiss Vetropack group of companies since 2003. To ensure the company keeps their competitive edge and addresses its own sustainability commitments, Kotányi reviews their packaging about once every six to eight year.
“This is important for two reasons: first, to maintain our edge over competitors on the shelf and in the catering industry. And then – equally important – there’s an increasing focus on sustainability: each gram of reduced weight means more energy saved and fewer emissions across the entire value chain,” emphasised CEO Erwin Kotányi.
More capacity – but the packaging weighs less
Initially, the container had a capacity of 97 ml and the glass weighed 127 g. Over the years, the product’s weight has been continuously reduced while its capacity has increased. The way the mill functions has also continued to evolve.
“The mouth was adapted in 2011 and then in 2012, we collaborated with Kotányi on the changeover to a dual grinder with coarse or fine options,” explained Elisabeth Eckmayr, Product Manager at Vetropack Austria. “The mill now holds 101 ml and still weighs 108 grams at present, but this will be reduced to 106 grams in the future. That will correspond to a weight reduction of 16.5 percent over the last 20 years.”
Vetropack and Kotányi have enjoyed a long and fruitful business relationship which really gained momentum in 2002 with the development of the mill. Vetropack also supplies Kotányi with two other spice jars, each with capacity of 110 ml and weight of 95 g.
“We regard Vetropack as a valuable partner not only because of their proximity to us, the reliability of their deliveries and their flexibility when quantities fluctuate – but above all, because of their innovative strength and their professional field service,” according to Alexander Eidelpes, Head of Packaging Purchasing at Kotányi.
Discover more on industry initiatives on delivering lighter weight packaging.
Tradition combined with diversity and sustainability
With 450 seasoning mixes, over 5,000 products (including country-specific lines) and more than 650 employees, Kotányi is a brand that now enjoys worldwide renown. Production takes place exclusively at Wolkersdorf near Vienna, but Kotányi currently supplies its products to 32 countries across the globe.
“We view ourselves as an innovation leader, and we invest continuously in products and technologies. Most recently, in 2022, we invested EUR 11 million to expand our production in Wolkersdorf so we can achieve higher quantities.”
Of course, changes in cooking and eating habits are also considered: these include health-conscious nutrition or meat-free diets, as well as more spicy foods and other trends such as smoky flavours. Kotányi has responded by including a wide range of chili variations in its range; snacks such as apple chips with mint or cinnamon flavours have also been added recently.
The herb and spice mill is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2023. It is available with over 70 product variants at present, ranging from “Himalayan Salt” to “Chipotle Smoked Chili”. The offering varies from country to country, according to local tradition and taste; in Poland, for example, pimento (allspice) is very prominent, although it actually originates from Central America. Since the start of production in 2003, volumes have multiplied to such an extent that a dedicated spice mill production line has been set up at Vetropack’s glassworks in Pöchlarn, Austria.
The herb and spice mill is also set to play a crucial role for Kotányi in the future: the company is currently in talks with distributors to prepare for the market launch in the UK.
Erwin Kotányi said: “The mill is very successful all over the world – and it often achieves that success without much marketing effort. It stands out on the shelf, and it combines appealing design with high quality and functionality. Vetropack plays a major part in this.”
Alexander Eidelpes added: “Going forward, we intend to work even more closely together to optimise our joint processes, including aspects such as CO2 reduction, energy sourcing and sustainability communication – especially as regards disposal of the glass containers. Also, of course, innovations in packaging are possible at any time. When it comes to product variety and innovation, we can always count on Vetropack.”
Kotányi has been a purveyor of fine herbs and spices since 1881 and offers a unique range of products from all around the world, including 4500 seasoning products that help you add great flavors to your food. Kotányi is a family business steeped in Austrian tradition with a commitment to sustainability: from raw materials to packaging to finished products, Kotányi helps make the environment a little bit better every day.
Vetropack Group is one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of glass packaging for the food and beverage industry. Vetropack has state-of-the-art production facilities as well as sales and distribution offices in Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Italy, the Republic of Moldova and Romania. They enable people to enjoy food and beverages as safely as possible by providing solutions that combine optimum elegance with maximum responsibility. Guided by an understanding of environmental responsibility and cost efficiency, Vetropack aims to minimise their carbon footprint throughout the supply chain, and is committed to recycling as the key to optimising product life-cycles.