The manufacturer of the world-famous Mozart balls – known as Mozartkugeln – has gone bankrupt in Austria due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that kept tourist customers away.
Although the marzipan centred chocolate sweets are famous the world over and are made by many companies in a similar form – the company that went bust is the only one legally allowed to sell them as Mozart balls – with the others having to change the shape so as not to infringe on copyright.
The chocolates, made by confectioners such as Salzburg Schokolade in Salzburg, are popular with tourists and are widely available in shops in the Austrian capital Vienna as well as at the country’s airports.
But now one of the top manufacturers of the Mozartkugeln, Salzburg Schokolade, and the only official ball maker has filed for bankruptcy, according to local media, with workers still waiting for their November wages.
According to ORF Salzburg, the company has assets of EUR 23.35 million (GBP 19.9 million) and liabilities of EUR 27.29 million (GBP 23.2 million).
The company was reportedly looking for new employees until recently and the announcement has shocked Salzburg. It is said that 140 employees and 614 creditors are affected, with the workers reportedly at risk of losing their jobs before Christmas.
Managing Director Christian Schuegerl said the company was hit hard by the pandemic in 2020, in an email sent to employees and business partners on Monday, according to ORF Salzburg.
Due to the massive decline in tourists, and in events and occasions such as birthdays and weddings, demand for the Salzburg Schokolade products fell. Schuegerl said: “The current lockdown and significant increases in the cost of raw materials, energy, wages, logistics costs and packaging materials were further reasons.”
Austria may as a result lose its largest industrial Mozartkugel manufacturer. The long-established company also produces the “Real Salzburg Mozartkugel” from Mirabell for the US company Mondelez.
The “Mirabell Mozartkugeln” are the only ones that are actually allowed to be a ball. All other industrial manufacturers have to flatten them a little so as not to conflict with the brand.
Nevertheless, it is a bitter blow, because Salzburg Schokolade made over 90 million Mozart balls every year in the nearby town of Groedig and they were sold in over 30 countries.
The company was founded in Salzburg in 1897 under the name Rajsigl-Suesswarenfabrik and it moved to Groedig in 1956.
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