Enhancing Food Supply Chain Security

Strengthening resilience and data protection in global supply chains


Leading manufacturer of herbs and spices for the European retail market, sourcing materials from around the world.

Industry: Manufacturing
Location: Wolkersdorf, Austria
Size: 650 employees
Website: kotanyi.com



  • Lack of clear visibility into all network activity
  • Need for secure access to critical applications for global teams
  • Inefficient network and cybersecurity management
  • Need for rapid detection of insider threats and anomalous behavior


  • Strengthened cybersecurity with more than 1 million IP addresses scanned per month, and no issues for over three years
  • Significantly reduced to no network downtime in accordance with Industry 4.0 standards
  • Food safety certification with end-to-end visibility across global supply chains
  • Faster detection of behavioral anomalies


Ensuring food security and protecting global supply chains

Food industry supply chains can be complex, global, and subject to seasonal disruption. Effective supply chain management is vital for manufacturers. They must maintain a steady supply of their products at a consistent price, year-round.

Kotányi has been managing global supply chains for nearly 150 years. The Austrian business is a leader in the herbs and spices segment, supplying some of Europe's largest supermarket retailers. It sources products from countries as far-flung as Brazil, Malawi, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka and processes them through its Wolkersdorf factory.

The challenge for Kotányi is to monitor every step of production, ensuring its products are fresh, authentic, and traceable. The company must do so while protecting its brand from the threat of retailer own brands.

"Relatively speaking, Austria is a more expensive place to operate than neighboring countries," says Martin Lorenz, head of IT for Kotányi. "If we are to continue to compete, we have to focus on streamlining costs, finding efficiencies throughout our operations."

The Kotányi network is key to operational efficiency and business continuity. Drawing upon the latest ideas in Industry 4.0, the network is where production and food safety data can be captured, stored, and assessed.

As manufacturing becomes more digital, the Kotányi network becomes increasingly critical. The business wants to adopt a leadership position, enabling hybrid working for global teams, digital workflows, Internet of Things (IoT) across the production and logistics environments, and new opportunities for data collection. To accomplish these goals, the network must be secure, performant, and adaptable.

Dealing with multiple vendors and mismatched technology can be challenging. Through consolidation with Cisco, we can foster open and transparent discussions.

Martin Lorenz, Head of IT

Clarity around security strengthens business continuity

The Kotányi network is built on Cisco products. With an Enterprise Agreement in place, it is a relationship that continues to deepen. From Cisco Catalyst switches and wireless connectivity, the most recent engagement sees Kotányi adopt a suite of Cisco security solutions.

Kotányi's vision of cybersecurity is intended as a platform rather than a jumble of products. For this reason, each of the security products adopted by Kotányi has its own role to play to make this platform as resilient as possible. Cisco Firepower 1000 Series firewalls established a cost-effective firewall; Cisco Duo enables cloud-delivered security management and robust multi-factor authentication, ideal for Kotányi's global operations.

"With Duo multi-factor authentication, we can easily and quickly secure access to our business applications and also to cloud services such as Microsoft Office 365," says Martin Lorenz. "It adds an extra layer of security so we can ensure that only approved devices and people have access to critical infrastructure."

Cisco Secure Network Analytics (formerly Stealthwatch) then detects advanced threats and responds to them quickly.

"I love the plug-and-play aspect of Cisco," says Irmtraud Lorenz, technology delivery manager, Kotányi. "You can add new products in the knowledge that they'll work together and there is a complete security shield over everything."

Security is an increasingly significant concern for the company, particularly against email- or web-based intrusion. Irmtraud Lorenz says the business must enable global teams' access to the network and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems but cannot risk disruption to production—or a ransomware threat. Kotányi favors an on-premises approach wherever possible. Although this approach has made data security relatively straightforward, the use of cloud applications is unavoidable

"We're heavily dependent on Office 365, and our Cisco management layer is cloud-based," she explains. "We know the future is going to be increasingly cloud. We recognize the benefits in terms of updates. The Cisco approach gives us visibility across all possible entry points."

Consolidating on Cisco underpins a modern production environment

The security upgrade underpins the entire Kotányi operation. In a typical month, more than 7 million files and 1 million IP addresses are scanned. There have been 3,400 malware incidents and 22 phishing requests in October, says Irmtraud Lorenz, with the security team having a clear line of sight across all incidents. There hasn't been a major security issue for over three years, and production has proceeded without interruption.

The ability to create an audit trail and to investigate data security threats helps Kotányi meet industry standards. The business has achieved version 7 of the IFS Food Standard; it also holds ISO 9001 and 14001 certifications. Domestically, Kotányi meets the Austria Bio sustainable agriculture standard. These certifications reinforce Kotányi's reputation for excellence, says Martin Lorenz:

"Failure to meet an order, or failure to log the exact details of a specific production batch, is unacceptable. The Cisco engagement plays a significant role in how we've improved our security in recent years."

A unified network is the basis for Kotányi's modern production environment. The business shifted to an entirely paperless process in recent years. All machinery is connected to the network, with sensors relaying performance to production managers and service technicians.

"Our technicians have the data they need on tablets. They're alerted if there is a production issue. We can be proactive in servicing our production equipment," he adds.

"With the Cisco components working together, there is much greater visibility of activity on the network," he says. "You don't get this with multiple vendors providing different security elements. It is far easier to manage one vendor."

Martin Lorenz says it goes further than this, and that consolidation enhances accountability: "Dealing with multiple vendors and mismatched technology can be challenging. Through consolidation with Cisco, we can foster open and transparent discussions."

The act of capturing data is essential for guiding future success

Food production, says Martin Lorenz, is not an industry that sees revolutionary changes to process. Rather than one huge transformation, the focus for Kotányi will be ongoing refinement, making small improvements to a multitude of workflows. This demands a reliable network and the capture of data to inform change.

Important new data points will include waste, energy, and materials as the spotlight moves to sustainability. Kotányi is already making great strides in terms of plastic use, organic production, and renewable energy.

"Stability is what we value," says Lorenz. "As the network becomes more important, we need to keep it updated. Again, consolidating on Cisco, and the speed of Cisco's updates, is good news for our continued success."