Talking Germany host Peter Craven speaks with Arend Oetker about captains of industry, Germany's small and mid-sized companies, and crumbling churches.
Arend Oekter is one of the best-known businessmen in Germany. He heads one of the country's largest food corporations, is vice president of the powerful Federation of German Industry, the BDI, and is one of the world's most significant art collectors.
Arend Oetker was born on March 30, 1939 in Bielefeld. He is a great-grandson of August Oetkers, founder of the Oetker Group. His mother inherited small companies from her father, including the jam factory, the Schwartauer Werke. Her brother, by contrast, received the main branches of the family's food production empire, which he managed on his own.
Oetker studied business administration and political science, receiving a Ph.D. in 1967. After his education, he successfully restructured the struggling company that his mother had inherited. He made the Schwartauer Werke, which were founded in 1899, Germany's market leader for preserves in the 1970s. He also expanded the company's production range to fruit and chocolate bars. Today, Arend Oetker Holding is one of Europe's biggest food corporations. Its annual turnover is currently around 1.6 billion euros.
Oetker is also a prominent public figure. He is the vice president of the Federation of German Industries and is active in many foundations that promote excellence in culture and science. A passionate art collector, Oetker is married, has five children and lives in Berlin.