The story of Taifun began 30 years ago with a trip and a meeting of two like-minded people. It was the 1980s, and the winds of change were blowing. More and more people took to the streets to demand a different approach to the environment. This conscious shift towards nature conservation prepared the ground for the organic movement − and for Wolfgang Heck and Klaus Kempff to come up with a shared vision: the vision of organic tofu, made in Europe.
Their enthusiasm for tofu was soon shared by others, and it continues to be felt at Taifun to this day: A passion for the vegetable protein in soybeans, our main ingredient, which makes tofu a food of the future. And a keen interest in the vast palatte of forms and flavours that tofu lends itself to so well. Long after Wolfgang, Klaus and their fellow tofu makers first produced tofu blocks and patties by hand, today more than 270 Taifun employees still strive to make perfect tofu products. We aim to make many people happy and are doing our bit to transform food consumption.
Taifun’s course of events:
Klaus was already experienced in growing sprouts and shoots and had brought the idea of making tofu back with him from a trip to the USA when he first met Wolfgang. Together they developed the tofu project and gave it the name “Taifun”. At first, they sold fresh tofu at the weekly market in Freiburg and offered lunch dishes. Soon tofu became a fixture in local health food shops.
After years of working in rented cellar space and kitchens, we finally moved to our own production halls at a business park in Freiburg-Hochdorf, which is still the location of Taifun-Tofu GmbH. Though the premises first seemed unbelievably large, they have since been expanded several times.
Organic farmers in the vicinity of Freiburg grew the first crop of tofu soybeans for us. This was Wolfgang’s response to the emergence of “green” genetic engineering in the USA, from whence we had been sourcing our soybeans. (By then, Klaus Kempff had left the company.) In the same year, we first shipped Taifun tofu to other countries, and we were proud to be the first company in Freiburg to achieve certification under the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS).
Organic products were increasingly on offer in conventional supermarkets. In order to keep our products for that segment clearly segregated, in 2004 we introduced the brand “Tukan bio&vegan”, under which a select range of our products is sold in Edeka and other German supermarkets. For the first time, our commitment to environmentally friendly production was certified according to ISO 14000, the international standard for environmental management systems (EMS).
Alfons Graf joined Wolfgang Heck as a second managing director. He focused on advancing the causes of environmental protection and sustainability. Our environmentally friendly refrigeration system was only the first of many investments in energy-saving equipment and measures, including the energy plant that would be later installed. In the same year we launched our “Taifun-Technikum” (Taifun’s technical department), a specialised miniature tofu factory that allows us to test new soybean varieties for their tofu suitability and monitor the quality of our soybeans.
Wolfgang Heck founded heck-unternehmensstiftung (Heck company foundation), to which he transferred all of his Taifun-Tofu GmbH shares, thus securing the future of our company and its values. He stepped down from his position as Taifun’s managing director to focus on leading the foundation. In his stead, Elisabeth Huber joined Alfons Graf to run our company.
Our fanbase was growing steadily, and we continued to expand our capacities. We remained mindful of environmental and social issues and compiled our first Common Good Balance Sheet.
For the first time ever, 100% of the organic soybeans we processed for our tofu originated in Europe, grown by our contract farmers in Germany, Austria and France.
After years of breeding work in collaboration with the University of Hohenheim, our first two own soybean varieties were approved. “Tofina” and “Tori” have exceptionally good qualities for tofu production.
We won the 2020 German Sustainability Award.
The small group of tofu pioneers has grown into a company with a workforce of more than 270 employees. We have purchased a new factory in Freiburg and are making further investments to keep up with the steadily growing demand for our products. Our company will be guided through these changes by the newly formed trio of managing directors Wolfgang Heck, Elisabeth Huber and Alfons Graf.