Georg Carl Hahn
In 1844, Georg Carl Hahn was 22 and working for a ship-builder in Lubeck, Northern Germany, when he began experimenting with the new - and revolutionary - science of canning food.
Four years later he had established the ‘G.C. Hahn & Co. factory for preserved food’ – only to have it threatened by the outbreak of real revolution across Europe in the same year, 1848, which saw Lubeck blockaded by the Danish navy.
Food preservation in that era was more of a craft than an industry: cooking preparation was done by hand, and Hahn’s team sterilised food in open hot water baths so it could be canned or bottled for long sea voyages.
Hahn travelled to Paris in 1872 to buy some of the world’s first autoclaves, which allowed sterilisation at higher temperatures, and by 1889 he was ready to hand on a thriving business to his sons. The firm continued to export preserved food until the disruption of World War Two.
It would be the founder’s 22 year-old great-grandson, Georg Friedrich, who brought the firm back to life in 1951. He oversaw the end of G.C. Hahn & Co.’s 100-year involvement in canned vegetables and jams, and the beginning of its work with food stabilisers. In 1957, he began a partnership with Italian food company Cesalpinia SpA, and by the time of his death in 1997, he had founded subsidiaries in France, North Wales, Australia, Holland, Hungary, Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Egypt and Brazil.
His daughter Katharina Hahn took over the business in 2002, the fifth generation of the family to run it. Tate & Lyle acquired an 80 per cent share in G.C. Hahn & Co. in 2007.