Perger 1757, gifts fit for Dalai Lama, pope and queen
Ever since 1757, the Perger family has been making honey treats and candles using its top secret recipes. Its company Perger 1757 has made a name for itself world-wide with products serving as gifts for prominent figures such as the current Dalai Lama, two former popes, and the late Queen Elizabeth II.
The business, currently run by the ninth generation of the Perger family, was first set up in the Hoče area, south of Maribor, but after the Second World War the family moved it to Slovenj Gradec in the northern Koroška region.
The company makes more than eight tonnes of honey-dough delicacies per year that they call honeybread. The treats are a distant cousins of gingerbread cookies and made mostly by hand. On top of the carefully guarded recipe, the family secret of the honeybread-making process is almost 300 years old as well.
Using between 12 and 18 tonnes of honey a year, the company also produces candies, lollipops, Turkish honey, honey beverages, honey confectionery, honey perfume and energy candles.
The Perger family has been making honey treats and candles since 1757. Photo: Perger 1757
They have developed their candles in cooperation with acclaimed Slovenian industrial designer Oskar Kogoj. The company's director Lucian Perger says that it was his father, Hrabroslav Perger, who struck this partnership in a bid to modernise the company, being aware that success equals tradition and innovation.
Perger products feature on Slovenian postage stamps and have appeared in many Slovenian and foreign TV series, documentaries and Slovenian feature films.
Their products are often used as corporate gifts or gifts for foreign heads of state, heads of government or other authorities. Among the famous recipients of the company's flagships are the 14th Dalai Lama, the late Queen Elizabeth II, Nelson Mandela and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, who received a chess set made of honeybread.
Two former popes received Perger gifts as well, the late Pope Benedict XVI and the late Pope John Paul II. The former was given an energy candle named Triglav after Slovenia's tallest peak and the latter an energy candle dubbed Infinity.
In December 1996, more than 10,000 Perger honeybread figural cakes were used to decorate Pope John Paul II's residence in the Vatican.
"The candles are a global hit. They are interlaced with Slovenia's beekeeping heritage since they contain honey perfume that we have developed ourselves. 800 kilograms of honey are used to make one litre of perfume," Lucian Perger says.
Handmade from 100% natural beeswax, the energy candles are the only ones in the world that do not need to be lit to work, he added. The energy candles with a 24-karat gold twist have been presented as a gift to many heads of state or heads of government, and soon one of Japan's ministers will receive a special gift including such a candle.
Perger 1757 makes energy candles made of beeswax and decorated with gold. Photo: Perger 1757
The company currently experiences a slowdown in the growth of organic product sales, and the growing trends are now vegan and gelatine-free products. Another area the company is focusing on is gluten-free products.
Most online sales are made in Slovenia, followed by Germany. Their products are also available in brick-and-mortar shops in Slovenia's neighbouring countries, South Korea, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. They feature in around 140 galleries, museums and shops worldwide, according to the company's website.
The current challenges include huge price increases when it comes to all ingredients, but the biggest problem is that some raw materials are not available at all.
The company employs seven people and in 2022, it posted €750,000 in revenue and €160,000 in profit. The Perger family has a workshop and a shop in Slovenj Gradec, and the plan is to set up another plant in the northern medieval town. The EUR 1 million investment will create additional jobs and the new facility is expected to be operational in May.
Despite the production expansion the company intends to remain a boutique business and is also working on an experience tourism project in Slovenj Gradec.