What sets us apart: An entrepreneurial spirit and the courage to keep breaking new ground. The most important events in the history of our company, brands, and products.
What began as a small production in the backyard of the pharmacy is now a well-established business, headquartered in Bielefeld, Germany.
The people behind the story: With pioneering spirit and drive, these individuals created one of Europe's most successful food companies.
Born in 1862 as the son of a baker, August Oetker began an apprenticeship as a pharmacist's assistant and went on to study natural sciences. In 1891, he fulfilled his dream of taking over a pharmacy. It was here in his laboratory, dubbed the "Geheimbutze" (secret lair), and after many experiments, he had a breakthrough in 1893 with his baking powder, Backin. This baking powder and all the products that followed were hugely successful. In 1900, he relocated from the pharmacy to a factory in Bielefeld, Germany, where the company is still headquartered today. He went on to build the largest baking powder factory in continental Europe. In 1918, August Oetker passed away following a short, severe illness. He was survived by his wife, Caroline Oetker, and two children.
Dr. August Oetker's wife Caroline Jacobi was born in Hanau, Germany, in 1867. The couple married in 1889 and moved to Bielefeld in 1890. Caroline supported her husband with his experiments and advised him on business matters. Thanks to her, the Dr. Oetker test kitchen was established. Throughout her life, Caroline was an advocate for social initiatives, especially in Bielefeld. Following the death of her husband, she established the Dr. August Oetker Memorial Foundation in 1918 and endowed it with 250,000 Deutschmarks. She also donated a world-class concert hall, the Rudolf Oetker Hall, to the city of Bielefeld which was inaugurated in 1930. It was named after her son, who died in 1916. In 1934, Caroline Oetker was pronounced an honorary citizen of the city of Bielefeld. To this day, she is the only woman to hold this title. Caroline Oetker died in 1945, but to date, a street and a senior citizens' residence in Bielefeld are named after her.
Dr. Richard Kaselowksy (born 1888) and Dr. Rudolf Oetker, son to the company’s founder, were school friends. At the start of the first World War, Richard promised his friend in the case of Rudolf’s death, he would take care of his wife and family. In 1916, Rudolf Oetker was killed in Verdun, France. Three years later, Kaselowsky married Rudolf's widow Ida, becoming the stepfather of Rudolf-August Oetker (1916-2007). Kaselowsky joined the company and was appointed Managing Director in 1921. The plan was for him to manage the company until Rudolf-August Oetker was old enough to take over. In the crisis years of the Weimar Republic, he secures the company's existence and independence. Marketing is further developed under him and the foreign business is expanded. In addition, Dr. Richard Kaselowsky acquires financial stakes in a number of companies, also outside the food industry. Kaselowsky is also committed to the social interests of the workforce. At his instigation, the company offers cheap building loans for workers' housing. By 1941, 263 inexpensive flats had been built for Dr. Oetker employees. Under Kaselowsky, the company became a "Model National Socialist Enterprise.” The company's role in the Nazi state has since been historically researched and investigated, and the results were published in 2013. In 1944, Dr. Richard Kaselowsky was killed in a bombing raid on Bielefeld and was succeeded by his stepson Rudolf-August Oetker.
Rudolf-August Oetker (1916-2007), the founder's grandson, joined the management in 1942. When his stepfather Dr. Richard Kaselowsky died in 1944, Rudolf-August took over as Managing Director. After the end of the war, he rebuilt the company, by opening up new markets and diversifying the business. Apart from the food business, he ventured into other industrial sectors, too. The Oetker Group was formed in 1948 through acquisitions and new business units, based on Rudolf-August’s risk-balancing strategy of diversification and his desire to expand. In 1965, with the establishment of the central administration, the company began to be officially referred to as the Oetker Group. In 1981, at the age of 65, Rudolf-August Oetker retired from daily business and passed management over to his son August Oetker.
Dr. h. c. August Oetker (born 1944) was the personally liable partner of Dr. August Oetker KG (Oetker Group) and Chairman of the Executive Board of Dr. August Oetker Nahrungsmittel KG from 1981 to 2009. During this time, the founder's great-grandson drove the internationalization of the food business further, extending far beyond Europe. New business areas, such as the muesli market, were also ventured into. Aged 65, and thus following his father's example, he passed his role on to his younger brother Richard Oetker. From January 1, 2010, until 2019, Dr. August Oetker served as Chairman of the Oetker Group’s Advisory Board.
Richard Oetker (born 1951) joined the company in the 1970s. In 1993, he was appointed Managing Director of Dr. Oetker International East GmbH and became a member of the Executive Board of Dr. August Oetker Nahrungsmittel KG in 1996. He played a crucial role in driving the brand's expansion in Eastern and Central Europe as well as the Balkans. For more than ten years, he also managed the Human Resources department and was responsible for developing the subsidiaries abroad. During his time, major acquisitions were made, such as the German frozen bakery manufacturer Coppenrath & Wiese and the frozen pizza business of McCain Foods. He was succeeded in 2016 by the former Chief Financial Officer of the Oetker Group, Dr. Albert Christmann, who became the first non-family member appointed to the Executive Board. Up until March 2021, Richard Oetker was still active as Chairman of the Advisory Board of Dr. August Oetker KG, Coppenrath & Wiese, the Radeberger Group, the Martin Braun Group, and Henkell Freixenet.