Julius Maggi (1846–1912)

Today there are many multinational companies in the food industry. One of the entrepreneurs who pioneered production and branding across European national boundaries was Julius Maggi.

He was born in Switzerland. His father owned a flour mill near Winterthur, which Julius took over at the age of 23. The family firm became Julius Maggi and company in 1872. He decided to diversify into other food products. The most important were ready-made concentrated soups of peas and beans and the Maggi seasoning, which became famous. He understood very early the importance of clear design and consistent branding and he created the distinctively shaped brown bottle with a yellow label for his seasoning in 1887 – still to be seen today.

Also in 1887, he began to make the company international. He began with bottling plants in Austria at Bregenz and over the German border at Singen, where he also bought the Bilger brewery. His branch in France was not initially successful but in 1899 he created a company at Paris making non-alcoholic drinks. Other innovations around 1900 were a vegetable bouillon cube and a meat stock cube that wad an accessible price for ordinary people. He moved to Paris with his family two years later and diversified further into pasteurised milk. By 1912 he was selling over 1,000,000 litres of milk every week and was awarded the Legion d’honneur for reducing disease in schoolchildren.

Maggi understood the importance of advertising and endorsements. He sought the approval of the renowned French chef August Escoffier, maintained consistent product design and took out widespread advertising. He became so wealthy from his companies that he had a grand villa in Zurich and four steam yachts. He died in 1912. The company later became part of the Nestlé multinational.