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PHW Group

PHW Group
IndustryMeat industry
PredecessorLohmann & Co. AG
Founded1998; 26 years ago (1998)
FounderPaul-Heinz Wesjohann
Area served
Key people
Peter Wesjohann (CEO)[1]
Revenue2.768 billion[1] (2021)
OwnerPaul-Heinz Wesjohann and Family[1]
Number of employees

The PHW Group is a German family business in the meat industry that operates internationally. Its core business is meat processing of poultry. It is the largest company of the poultry industry in Germany[3] and the fourth-largest in Europe.[4] The PHW Group is headquartered in Visbek-Rechterfeld in the Oldenburg Münsterland region, Germany.


The PHW Group is made up of two parent companies: the Erste Paul-Heinz Wesjohann GmbH & Co. Kommanditgesellschaft with €2,232.5 million in sales, and the Zweite Paul-Heinz Wesjohann GmbH & Co. Kommanditgesellschaft with €585.8 million in sales in the 2020/2021 financial year, both based in Rechterfeld.[5][6] Part of the PHW group are several subgroups, among them the Lohmann & Co. AG based in Vaduz, Liechtenstein, which the PHW Group uses for public appearances.[7]

Site of the subsidiary company MEGA Tierernährung.

The core business area of the PHW Group is poultry production under the brand Wiesenhof. The PHW Group features a strong vertical integration and combines large parts of the poultry production chain. These include hatcheries, fattening, the production of feed and veterinary medicine, logistics, the slaughtering and cutting of poultry, and the processing and marketing of poultry meat. Chickens are the main products processed, along with turkeys and ducks. The PHW Group also owns just under 50 percent of the shares of the WIMEX Group, one of the world's largest suppliers of day old chicks of the Cobb breed.[8]

Additionally, the company has a business sector alternative proteins, which in the fiscal year 2020/2021 made up €16.8 million (0,6% of the total revenue).[5][6]


1932 until 1998: predecessor

In 1932, Paul Wesjohann founded an agricultural trade business with a hatchery in Rechterfeld. The same year but independently, Heinz Lohmann founded a fishmeal factory in Cuxhaven. Both expanded their businesses greatly in the following decades.[9]

In 1965, they jointly established a chicken hatchery in Rechterfeld. The sons of Paul Wesjohann, Paul-Heinz and Erich Wesjohann, both entered executive position there. The brothers took over more and more responsibility in the following years. In 1987, the Wesjohann family took over the majority of the share capital of Lohmann's company Lohmann & Co. AG, yielding the Lohmann-Wesjohann-Gruppe. In 1997, the Wesjohann family took over the remaining shares, subsequently owning the consortium completely.[9]

1998: foundation of the PHW Group and the EW Group

In 1998, Paul-Heinz and Erich Wesjohann split up the consortium. Paul-Heinz Wesjohann founded the PHW Group and Erich Wesjohann founded the EW Group.[9] While the EW Group became one of the world's largest poultry-breeding companies,[10] the PHW Group evolved into one of the largest poultry slaughter company in Europe.

1998 until now

The PHW Group subsequently expanded and took over competitors as well as companies in other countries. The acquisitions included the Polish poultry processor Drobimexin 2001,[11] the Dutch slaughterhouse Esbro in 2014[12] and the German duck processor Wichmann in 2016.[13] In 2018, the PHW Group took over the distribution for Beyond Meat in Germany.[14]

Until the end of 2007, the PHW Group sponsored the professional cycling team Wiesenhof–Felt.[15] Since 2012, the PHW Group is the main sponsor of the professional football club SV Werder Bremen.[16]

The founder Paul-Heinz Wesjohann handed over the CEO position to his son Peter Wesjohann in 2009.[9]


Exploitation of workers

The PHW Group was repeatedly criticized for bad working conditions. Im 2007, the ZDF broadcast the TV format Frontal21 documenting very bad working conditions and wages of Polish migrant workers.[17] In 2011, similar conditions were documented by a ARD TV-reportage.[18]

Animal abuse

Mistreatment of animals in the farms and the slaughterhouses was repeatedly criticized sharply. In 2010, the ARD broadcast a Report Mainz reportage uncovering serious animal welfare violations at a chicken breeding farm.[19] In another ARD reportage in 2011[18] and in a Stern TV reportage in 2013, further cases of animal abuse were documented.[20]

Environmental issues

The PHW Group is accused of overexploitation of groundwater resources in the vicinity of its production sites.[21] In Lohne, groundwater levels near a plant of the PHW Group were documented to have dropped by several meters since 1951.[22]

Illegal price agreements and tax evasion

In 2014, the German Federal Cartel Office imposed fines totaling approximately €338.5 million on 21 sausage producers and 33 responsible individuals. The so-called Wurstkartell (German for sausage cartel) also involved PHW Group subsidiary Wiesenhof Geflügelwurst GmbH & Co. KG based in Rietberg.[23]

In 2019, the PHW Group relocated the registered office of Lohmann & Co. AG to Vaduz in Liechtenstein. The financial services provider Ganten Trustees Ltd. serves as the representative office, which previously appeared in the Panama Papers.[24] The party Alliance 90/The Greens accused the PHW Group of tax evasion.[25]


Protest at the headquarters of the PHW Group in Rechterfeld in 2021.

Environmental and animal rights activists blocked sites of the PHW Group multiple times in protest. In 2013, activists cemented themselves on the access road to the slaughterhouse in Bogen, Bavaria.[26] In 2017, animal rights activists and members of citizens' initiatives blocked the slaughterhouse in Königs Wusterhausen, Brandenburg.[27] In 2021, the alliance Gemeinsam gegen die Tierindustrie blocked the company headquarters in Rechterfeld with more than hundred activists.[28][29]


  1. ^ a b c "PHW Unternehmen - Über uns". PHW Group (in German). Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  2. ^ "PHW Unternehmen - Mitarbeiter". PHW Group (in German). Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  3. ^ "Umsatz der führenden Unternehmen in der Geflügelwirtschaft in Deutschland in den Jahren 2018 und 2019". Statista (in German). Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  4. ^ "Top 11 European poultry producers". Watt Poultry. 2020-02-01. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  5. ^ a b Consolidated financial statement for the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2020 and ending on June 30, 2021 of Erste Paul-Heinz Wesjohann GmbH & Co. Kommanditgesellschaft, Rechterfeld. Published in Bundesanzeiger on July 14, 2022.
  6. ^ a b Consolidated financial statement for the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2020 and ending on June 30, 2021 of Zweite Paul-Heinz Wesjohann GmbH & Co. Kommanditgesellschaft, Rechterfeld. Published in Bundesanzeiger on July 28, 2022.
  7. ^ "Impressum". PHW Group (in German). Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  8. ^ Kwasniewski, Nicolai (2017-03-28). "Geflügelmast: So leiden die Hühnereltern". (in German). Retrieved 2023-02-03.
  9. ^ a b c d "History". PHW Group. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  10. ^ "Aviagen Becomes Part of the Erich Wesjohann Group". The Poultry Site. 2005-04-26. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  11. ^ "Heavy investment by the PHW Group". PHW Group. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  12. ^ "PHW-Groep wil Esbro overnemen". (in Dutch). 2014-08-19. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  13. ^ "Weihnachtsenten ...schwimmen nicht im See". Der Spiegel (in German). 2016-11-25. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  14. ^ "Beyond Meat: Burger kommt nach Deutschland". Fleischwirtschaft (in German). 2018-11-22. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  15. ^ "Wiesenhof-Felt changes". 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2022-08-17.
  16. ^ "Wiesenhof wird neuer Sponsor von Werder Bremen". Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). 2012-08-10. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  17. ^ Schuften für drei bis vier Euro - Ausbeutung in Fleischfabriken (in German). In: ZDF Frontal21, July 3, 2007.
  18. ^ a b "ARD-exclusiv: Das System Wiesenhof". ARD (in German). 2011-08-31. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  19. ^ Tierquälerei bei Wiesenhof? Wie Hühner leiden müssen (in German). In: ARD Report Mainz, January 11, 2010.
  20. ^ "Tierquälerei bei Wiesenhof-Mäster: Hühnchen landen lebendig im Müll". Stern (in German). 2013-09-04. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  21. ^ "Die Angst vor dem Elefanten". Kreiszeitung (in German). 2011-04-08. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  22. ^ Linda Braunschweig: Naturschutzbund klagt gegen Kreis Vechta (in German). In: Oldenburgische Volkszeitung. August 28, 2012.
  23. ^ "Sausage makers fined". Deutsche Welle. 2014-07-15. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  24. ^ "Mit Wiesenhof ins "Paradise"". (in German). 2020-02-08. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  25. ^ "Wiesenhof-Mutterkonzern in der Kritik: Begeht die PHW-Gruppe Steuerflucht?". Nordwest-Zeitung (in German). 2020-02-07. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  26. ^ ""Mastanlagen Widerstand": Blockade am größten Schlachthof Süddeutschlands". Regensburg Digital (in German). 2013-03-11. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  27. ^ "Tierschützer blockieren Hühner-Schlachthof". Märkische Allgemeine (in German). 2017-03-20. Archived from the original on 2020-05-31. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  28. ^ "Protest bei Geflügelproduzent: Polizei löst Blockade auf". Norddeutscher Rundfunk (in German). 2021-07-15. Archived from the original on 2021-12-20. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
  29. ^ "Polizei löst Sitzblockade vor Wiesenhof-Zentrale auf". Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). 2021-07-15. Retrieved 2022-12-11.
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PHW Group
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