Henniez Celebrates 10 Years at Nestlé Waters: An Environmental Success Story

All press releasesFeb 2, 2018

The Henniez springs have been used since Roman times. The mineral water has been bottled and sold since 1905, originally for medicinal purposes, and later as an everyday beverage. The family-run business has proven to be full of surprises over the years, with a series of bold innovations. Switzerland’s most popular drinking water became a Nestlé Waters brand on January 1, 2008. Today, Henniez continues to be at the forefront of water conservation by promoting the ECO-Broye program, collaborating with 70 local farmers to protect water resources throughout the region.

“Depuis 1905”, or “Since 1905”, is featured on every bottle of Henniez. But Henniez’s history dates back much further. The spring was discovered by the Celtics and later used by the Romans; the name Henniez comes from a Roman citizen named Ennius. In 1648, a doctor opened a thermal spa in the area. Later, Société des Bains et Eaux d’Henniez was founded and the first bottling plant was set up in 1905.

In the years that followed, Henniez’s fame never spread beyond French-speaking Switzerland. But in 1928, the company — then known as Henniez Lithinée — bridged the language barrier by partnering with Eglisau mineral springs. Henniez thus became the first spring water sold throughout Switzerland.

Henniez Lithinée’s history has been marked by innovation:

  • As the top Swiss brand, Henniez launched non-sparkling mineral water onto the market in the late 1950s, and set off the still-water trend.
  • As the top Swiss brand, Henniez introduced slightly carbonated water in 1974 and began using red, blue, and green labels to help distinguish the different kinds of water. That strategy is now used by many Swiss brands today.
  • In 1984, Henniez began packaging mineral water in recyclable PET plastic bottles — a first in Switzerland — and much to Swissair’s delight; the featherlight PET bottles allowed the airline to carry an additional passenger per flight.

Henniez – Switzerland’s most widely consumed brand in the gastronomy industry

Henniez was so successful that others tried to imitate it in the 1930s. One local businessman tapped into another Henniez water source and founded a competitor. While Henniez Lithinée was more expensive and earned 80% of its revenue in the gastronomy industry, the competitor did well in retail by offering lower prices. But the company ended up facing financial difficulties, and in 1978, it was bought out by Henniez Lithinée, which changed its name to Sources Minérales Henniez. Still today, Henniez is Switzerland’s most widely consumed brand in the restaurants. And for a long time, ordering “a Henniez” in a restaurant simply meant ordering mineral water. In 2014, the French-language business magazine Bilan credited Henniez with popularizing mineral water consumption in Switzerland.

Behind Henniez’s resounding success was an old-school entrepreneur named Edgar Rouge. He believed that expansion involved diversification. In 1977, he obtained the Swiss license to produce Granini fruit juice. In 1989, his portfolio expanded to include Cristalp, a brand of mineral water from the Alps in the canton of Valais. The fruit juice brand Hohes C was added in 1996.

Rouge’s entrepreneurial vision led him to create the Domaines d’Henniez, or Henniez Estates, in 1991, a protected zone around the spring spanning 120 hectares, and the Rouges had some 70,000 trees planted to preserve the quality of the water. Ever since, there has been a zero-tolerance policy in the source protection zone, where fertilizers, pesticides and other phytosanitary products are banned.

Nestlé Waters took over in 2008 and reaffirmed the commitment to conservation

At the start of the new millennium, Edgar Rouge’s sons Pascal and Nicolas took over the family business, until it was sold to Nestlé Waters on January 1, 2008. The ECO-Broye program was launched soon after, to strengthen existing initiatives for water and natural resources conservation, and to expand them throughout the Broye region. It would take two years to establish the collaboration with key partners in the region. Nestlé Waters now works with 70 farmers, local authorities and communities, as well as other stakeholders, to actively protect the 2,400-hectare area.

In 2016, Nestlé Waters opened Switzerland’s largest agricultural biogas plant next to the Henniez bottling plant, representing a new core element in the ECO-Broye program. The facility — financed, built and operated by Swiss power producer Groupe E Greenwatt — uses 23,000 tons of natural fertilizer annually from nearly 30 farms in the region. In addition, 3,800 tons of organic waste from producing and recycling Nespresso and Nescafé in the region is converted into biogas.

The converted biogas produces 4 million kWh of electricity and 4.5 million kWh of heat per year, which corresponds to the needs of nearly 1,000 households. The process also produces high-quality organic fertilizer, which the farmers involved receive in exchange for the manure that has not been applied to the fields.

“We’ve learned so much in Henniez, especially in regards to nature and all the stakeholders involved,” says Andrea Stoffel, Country Business Manager for Nestlé Waters Switzerland. He continues, “We have turned our predecessor’s commitment to the environment into a real pilot project. At Nestlé Waters, ECO-Broye has become a lighthouse example of protecting water resources, which are the very basis of life and what we do.”

For further information and photos:

Meike Schmidt | Nestlé Waters (Suisse) SA | +41 26 668 68 34 | Meike.Schmidt@waters.nestle.com