Christoph Zweifel became CEO of family-owned Zweifel Pomy-Chips in 2020 and is the first from his family to head the company since his father stepped down almost 30 years ago. He explains why this is so important.
May 26 is a date Christoph Zweifel, the CEO of Zweifel Pomy-Chips, holds close to his heart. His grandfather (one of the company’s pioneers) was born on May 26, 1904, the same day of the month in 1970 marked the first day for Zweifel Pomy-Chips at its new production site in Spreitenbach, while May 26, 2020 was Christoph’s first day in his father’s shoes at the helm of the company.
“My father stepped down as CEO 29 years ago – so it’s great to say the CEO’s name is Zweifel once again,” Christoph says. “It’s a really exciting time for us and I expect many growth opportunities in the near future.”
Before becoming CEO, Christoph was Director of Marketing and Sales since 2015 and a member of Zweifel’s Board of Directors. As a result, he was already playing a hand in the potato crisp producer’s expansion across Europe and understood the responsibility that comes with spearheading one of Switzerland’s most recognisable brands. It produces and sells several different varieties of potato chips, not to mention other snacks like corn and multigrain chips, nuts, and popcorn.
However, the Zweifel family didn’t always make chips – it first established its reputation in the Zurich region as a winemaker in 1898. In 1958, Heinrich Zweifel, Christoph’s grandfather, took over the potato chip business that had originally been started by his cousin, Hans Meier, and gave it to his son Hansheinrich. Since then, the company has grown massively and now employs 380 people and transforms 22,000 tonnes of potatoes into 7,000 tonnes of chips per year.
The firm has nearly 55% of market share in Switzerland and recently increased turnover significantly to $256 million. Zweifel has also invested heavily in its production facilities, with more than $43 million going to modernisation, even as it recorded record turnover in 2019.
The company has overseen some changes since Christoph joined the company, such as using Swiss rapeseed oil instead of sunflower oil to make the chips. “We use Swiss raw materials whenever possible,” he explains. “Before, there wasn’t always enough sunflower oil for our production so we were forced to buy from abroad. But during a good year, when there’s enough Swiss rapeseed oil, we use it together with Swiss potatoes and mountain salt, to ensure maximum ‘Swissness.’ Over the last decade, more than 95% of potatoes used in Zweifel chips have been Swiss and we now have about 70 different flavours and loads of snacks. Paprika is my favourite flavour, but I also love salt and vinegar.”
People know when Zweifel’s beloved chips are coming – the company’s instantly recognisable fleet of orange trucks, which transport fresh chips to every corner of Switzerland, have become iconic. “Our trucks have been delivering chips far and wide for a long time now, and one reason we’re so successful is because we deliver our products directly to people. We’ve built an incredibly strong relationship with our customers, it’s all about trust,” Christoph says.