December 4, 2023

How did the organic farm go bankrupt?

It was a bad surprise for anyone who cares about sustainable agriculture and livestock farming. And as we reported on Thursday, the organic farm in Styria had to do just that LaPonca Recently filed for bankruptcy. The company is particularly popular in startup circles thanks to its successful appearance on 2 Minutes 2 Million in 2020. Now, naturally, the question arises of how the bankruptcy occurred and what will happen next. Farmer Norbert Hackl, founder of La Punka, speaks.

Labonka: The organic farm in Styria is bankrupt

A sustainable farm with an emphasis on animal welfare

For those who do not know, Labonka: It is a farm in eastern Styria that avoids mass production and relies on pure and natural agricultural methods. The focus is primarily on respectful animal husbandry and organic farming of arable land. Pigs and cattle can roam freely here and eat healthy food. Animals must also be slaughtered sustainably and without suffering. Norbert Hackl also calls his organic farm the “Kingdom of the Sun Pig.”

Although the company has had some successes in recent years, it has recently experienced a downfall. The company’s annual financial statements for the fiscal year 2022 show a net loss of 287 thousand euros and liabilities of 1.37 million euros. This year it finally went bankrupt.

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Labonca suffered from non-payment by business partners

Regarding the causes of insolvency, Hackl says: “The current difficult economic situation of organic food producers in the context of the diminishing purchasing power of consumers due to the inflation crisis, was exacerbated by the long-term default of the most important trading partner and brought La Punka to bankruptcy despite increasing sales figures and declining Raw material costs.

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According to Hackel, costs of crucial raw materials, for example, animal feed, or energy operating costs rose by six figures last year. The company actually wanted to offset these additional costs with bridge financing from a business partner that had already been secured. Although raw material and energy costs are now back to normal again and sales are increasing again, trading partner payments have been cancelled. This has left Labonca reeling, as the lost amount cannot be replaced. In order to prevent further damage, LaBonca himself filed for bankruptcy.

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The future of operations currently remains open

According to Hackel, the agriculture and animal husbandry sectors were not affected by the bankruptcy. Whether operations will continue will be determined in the next few weeks. To this day it is 100 percent owned by Norbert Hackl. The farm sold products primarily to end consumers via its own refrigerated mail and outlets in Burgau. Sales were also made through business partners, restaurants and hotels.

According to the founder, the years 2020 and 2021 were very successful economically. The company has also managed to make a name for itself with several awards. But in 2022, the recession came due to the huge increase in costs, including feed and energy costs. The agricultural and animal husbandry area was handed over to the next generation at the beginning of the year. Young farmer Jacob Hackl, one of the founder’s sons, will now continue raising sun hogs and mountain cattle.

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“My life’s work has not been destroyed.”

Norbert Hackl is certainly optimistic about the future: “I will continue to use and transfer all the experience and know-how I have gained from 20 years of free-range breeding, marketing, brand building and communication into the future in developing sustainable projects. My life’s work has not been destroyed, but “It put him on a new foundation and allowed him to continue to develop.”