Case Study

Hofgut Kapellenhof


Hofgut Kapellenhof

1. Introduction

a. Essence of the Best Practice

Hofgut Kapellenhof is specialized in sheep farming and produces products of organic sheep milk and meat. The farm has the claim as the only organic sheep milk cheese dairy in the Rhine-Main area to produce high-quality and exclusive cheese creations. Also, it succeeds in creating successful direct customer contact in different ways.

b. What/ How/ Who/ Where

Hofgut Kapellenhof is a certified organic farm, and the manager is Mr. Küthe. It is in Germany, in the state of Hesse, in Hammersbach. 

The farm manages about 75 hectares of arable land and grassland: cultivation of wheat, barley, spelt and field beans. These are used as feed grain or also as food grain. 

A main income brings the breeding of sheep (Lacaune sheep flock), for milk and lamb meat sales. He owns a sheep dairy and makes his own products (sheep cheese, yogurt, fresh cheese, ice cream, sausage, etc.). 

Hofgut Kapellenhof has developed various ways to sell its products e.g., a farm-gate sales with self-service store and the products are also marketed through different partners (supermarkets etc.) in the region.

2. Given Situation before Startup/ Change

a. Existing farm or new/ side entry

The impulse for the reestablishment of the farm was the memory that the Kapellenhof had been run as an agricultural business since time immemorial. It was only in the 1970s that the farm had ceased to operate. We wanted to continue the tradition and practice agriculture again. In 1998, the farm entered organic farming with only two hectares of arable land. Today it cultivates about 75 hectares of arable land and grassland in Hammersbach and the surrounding area. Since July 2018, the company produces organic sheep cheese.

3. Decisions made at the beginning (AIMS/ GOALS)

a. Selection of Seeds/ Breeds/ Location for Production

The first breeding animals of the Lacaune sheep flock come from a breeders’ cooperative from Auvergne in France. The decision much decided on the robust Lacaune sheep because they are optimally adapted to climatic conditions and have a good milk yield.

b. Decision for the production system (Intensive, extensive, organic, biodynamic)

In 1998, the farm entered organic farming with only two hectares of arable land. The farm produces ecologically, because animal welfare and nature and environmental protection is very important to him and is close to the company’s heart. Also, the farm attaches importance to a very good and continuous quality of the products. In addition, the protection of species and biodiversity is far in the front of the farm. Thus, the decision was made to create a 6-hectare wetland where nature can find a retreat that is not intensively farmed. The impulse for the establishment of the sheep herd and the sheep dairy was the consideration that animal manure for their own fields are needed to maintain and improve soil fertility in the long term. Only in this way can ensure the basic ideas of organic farming with a circular economy.

c. Decision about Processing stage and Market depth

Hofgut Kapellenhof offers a farm-gate sales. It is a self-service store where you can buy the products of the farm (sheep cheese, yogurt, fresh cheese, ice cream, sausage, etc. and products from other regional farms for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The products are also marketed through different partners in the region (e.g., supermarkets). In addition, the farm offers farm tours, cheese and wine evenings 🡪 knowledge transfer: the consumer gets an exclusive look behind the scenes, gets to know farm processes and learns interesting facts about organic farming.

d. Decision for the Market to be delivered: B2B and/or B2C

The farm takes advantage of the opportunities and benefits of both approaches.

4. Gallery

5. Measures taken to establish the business (PLANNING/SETTING)

a. Network, Exchange, Training, Counselling

The farm manager, Mr. Küthe is studied Dipl. Ing. Agrar. and thus, he brings expertise and knowledge. It employs four full-time employees and 12 temporary workers. The company does not employ family labor, it is 100% out-side labor.

b. Single Farm/ Cooperation/ Cooperative

Hofgut Kapellenhof is operating basically as a single farm, but very open to and building on cooperation on the different levels along processing and value chain. The farm work based on good and open communication and a high transparency level. He offers openness and transparency in all his operational processes (e.g. insights through farm tours; information on homepage). The intention is to to produce high quality, to communicate it and to involve customers as well as business partners.

6. Next steps to move on (MOVE ON/ ADAPT)

a. Steps in production/ processing/ selling

In the future, the creation of a farm restaurant has a high priority as an additional marketing channel. The farm manager assumes that it will become more and more important to create reasonable alternatives. Customers must be convinced of the quality in order to pay a justifiably high price.

b. Steps ahead in relevant Markets

Positioning as a seller of organic sheep milk products 🡪 Participation with own products in various competitions.

7. Quote and Recommendation of the Promoter

a. Is it worth it?

Yes. On the farm, the expansion of direct marketing and the creation of a farm restaurant has absolute priority in the future. The farm manager assumes that it will become more and more important to create reasonable alternatives. Customers must be convinced of the quality in order to pay a justifiably high price.

b. What is the biggest revenue, what is the biggest challenge?

The farm manager thinks that, in retrospect, he should have focused on direct marketing from the beginning. However, it is difficult to judge what would have happened without Covid. That’s why it’s hard to judge. A certain flexibility to adapt to changing conditions is essential in today’s world, he thinks. See Corona and the Ukraine crisis.

c. What you recommend to other farmers?

The farm manager says: “My experience is that we have to be mega flexible. Just because I have set my mind on a certain product and am convinced of it, doesn’t mean that the customers will also like it. Especially in the beginning, you have to constantly readjust and be ready to change. That helped me a lot. Above all, you have to find your own way, stand out, find a gap, but not be too specific.”

In any case, you have to have a great desire for it and be prepared to have to fight against a lot of resistance. There are a lot of things that come your way that you didn’t expect beforehand. Absolute focus must be on product quality and reliability. Large fluctuations in both topics are absolute no go`s. You have to be the type for that. As nice as the whole thing is, you have to approach it realistically and critically.

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