...the foundation era...

"... it has been the ambitious and diligent ones who saw the need for a marketing organisation..."


Even before the official founding year, Grinschgl, Bayer, Allesch, Chibidziura, Kürzel, Gschwind, Oswald, Hieger, Bauer and Painer got together to set up a marketing association for Styrian soft fruit. The people in charge at the time realised after only two years that, for legal and organisational reasons, this young association was not sufficient. Eventually, the association became today's cooperative. Then, on 4 May 1962, the cooperative was entered into the company register, making the first written documentation of the Styrian soft fruit cooperative as a registered cooperative a historic event.The years that followed saw the cooperative development and growth. The fruit juice industry grew and the need for Styrian berries grew with it.The founding fathers did not yet realise that they had laid the cornerstone for the largest berry marketing organisation at the time, which would later market more than 4 million kilograms of currants and now almost 10 million kilograms of elder.

The first harvest - 4 May 1962
Cooperative officials 1978
Alesch, Kürzl, Grinschgl, Bayer, Chibidziura

...the cooperative era...

"... it is/has always been the loyal and unswerving ones who enabled and guaranteed the success of the cooperative..."


As a result of the cultivation of black and red currants and by expanding the area under cultivation, the field of activity of the STBOG also expanded, starting from western Styria all the way to southern and eastern Styria. The number of members grew rapidly, and during its peak the STBOG had more than 1,600 members. The cooperative chairmen, on the other hand, did not change with the same frequency. The founding chairman Ignaz Grinschgl headed the cooperative for 35 years, his successor Josef Zmugg for 10, and his successor Johannes Jöbstl has now been its head for 5 years. The first supervisory board was headed by Franz Kraus, followed by Hans Lichtenegger, Roman Koinegg and Herbert Christandl. August Friedheim is the current chairman of the supervisory board. As the production of elder expanded, so did the STBOG, all the way to Tattendorf (Lower Austria) and to Wallern in the Seewinkel district. Soft fruit is currently being handed over at 20 locations. With only few exceptions, the growing area of the soft fruit cooperative covers 250 kilometres from Eibiswald to the Seewinkel district.

Members during the currant hand-over
50 years of soft fruit on 4 May 2012
General meeting 2010

...the currant era...

"... it was the fruit that the juice industry needed and that gave the farmers a secure income... "


In the 1980s, quite a few building shells were financed by the red currant production, which achieved record prices of 25 Austrian shillings for 10,000 kg", according to many retired farmers. Black and red currants were the main fruit of the STBOG. Record harvests of more than 4.2 million kilograms of fruit were marketed throughout Europe, most of it fresh. The record year of 1978 is often mentioned, when frost damage across Europe caused demand to shoot up. The Styrian growing areas were almost completely spared by the frost, which meant that record prices were accompanied by a record harvest. The one-day loading capacity of 16 truck loads was an international record at the time.However, as result of the mechanisation of the harvesting methods, the expansion of the growing areas in eastern Europe and finally the nuclear catastrophe in Chernobyl in 1986 (which meant that a harvest ban was imposed in Austria), conventional currant production in Styria lost its significance. Nowadays, only high-quality organic currants are grown by the cooperative.

The first crates.
The STBOG truck.
Quality has always been one of our priorities.

...the elder era...

"... it was the colour that our partners and customers loved about elder and which they brought to perfection..."


The first attempts at elder production bore fruit in 1978. The Haschberg variety was selected in the Klosterneuburg research institute, and it is the most popular main elder variety to be cultivated. Specialists from the food industry took notice of elder and soon recognised their high colour content and low levels of fruit acid, which they found to be beneficial. The increasingly positive development of the elder market fully compensated for the decline of the black currant. Cultivation areas and harvest volumes were continually expanded. The year 2011 saw a record harvest of 8.8 million kilograms on 1,400 hectares of land. Approx. 5% of that was organically grown, mostly in Lower Austria and Burgenland. The Styrian climate, its soil, and above all the diligence of the 550 producers turned the Styrian elder into the second most important exported fruit after the apple. Recently, it was not just the elderberry that gained significance in the market, the elderflower did, too.

Ripe, healthy elder in the harvest crate
The berry crate as part of the concept.
Elder in the freezer storage.

...the investment era...

"... it was necessary in order to process the fruit, store it and to deliver the best quality..."


The organisation of the harvest calls for harvest logistics - harvest logistics calls for investment - and investment calls for courageous and innovative people who are prepared to take risks. These were the people who got together in the Styrian soft fruit cooperative, who continuously invested in harvest crates, acceptance halls, truck fleets and processing solutions. With the elder harvest, logistics faced new challenges. It soon became apparent that a cold storage building and an automatic destalking plant were needed to empty crates and for primary processing. And so, in 1994, in partnership with the Philipp family, Beerenfrost Kühlhaus GmbH was founded in Lieboch. This cold storage facility is currently undergoing construction for the fourth time and has established itself as one of Europe's most efficient cold storage facilities. There is nowhere else where a day's harvest of up to 1,000 tonnes (approx. 50 truck loads) can be processed for refrigeration and stored. STBOG currently has more than 650,000 harvest crates and five storage facilities, and it has a 25% strategic stake in Beerenfrost Kühlhaus GmbH.

Storage facility Nestelbach-Ilz.
The Beerenfrost company grounds
Storage facility Eibiswald. STBOG's oldest building

...the innovation era...

"... it has always been the brilliant minds that shaped the cooperative and made it fit for the future..."


These are the people whose efforts and personal commitment contributed to the success of the cooperative as a whole. There are numerous examples: they include the many work groups that prepare the management board resolutions; the supervisory board that acts as a controlling body; the staff responsible for implementation; but above all the innovative elder and currant farmers who support their colleagues through their experience and actions and always introduce innovations. External institutions also contribute to the cooperative's success. The chamber of agriculture which provides expert production advice; many research partners (HBLA Klosterneuburg, TU Graz, Haidegg etc.) who always carry out interesting research projects in collaboration with STBOG; all partners and customers of the cooperative, that promote product development; and all the lobbying groups and associations that are well-disposed towards STBOG. We would like to take the opportunity to thank them all!

Ground-breaking ceremony for the new storehouse
Attending the Biofach trade fair.
The STBOG officials on a trip


Beerenobstgenossenschaft eGen

Hans-Thalhammer-Straße 28
8501 Lieboch / Steiermark / Austria

T: +43(0)3136.62002
E: info@holunder.com
I: www.holunder.com