A centenary business revealed to us
To date it is the oldest Sponge Processing Company in Europe, and has made the processing of sea sponge a point of excellence for hundred years. You can now have a tour of the company to discover its operations and products directly from the family which has been processing natural sponges traditionally for generations.
The Rosenfeld family. Who are they?
In Trieste, the opening of Rosenfeld Ltd. was possible because of the hard work of David Rosenfeld in 1896. The city was under the rule of the Austro-Hungarian Franz Joseph I. The family which has continued to run the company for four generations, has made the processing of sea sponge a point of excellence: the family knows the secrets, the particularities and the waters where the best specimens are found. Today after one hundred years the family still markets sponges with the same passion and exports its sponges worldwide. You can now have a tour of the company to see its activities during Muggia’s Special Saturdays. Read more about the tours and book your experience. HERE.
Rosenfeld sponges come from the waters of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic sea. They are processed in the sponge processing plant in Trieste and exported worldwide. The purification and washing treatment required to remove the impurities and organic calcareous substances from the sponge and ensure the correct PH balance of the product is done by using traditional methods. Shaping is the last part of the process, strictly done by hand.
Rosenfeld sponges are especially requested in the field of cosmetics and wellness by both Italian and foreign clients: Pharmaceutical companies, manufacturers of cosmetic lines and distributors of children’s items. The ceramic industry, footwear and paint industry also make huge requests to market their products under their own “private label”.
What is a sponge?
Sponges are animals belonging to the group of Porifera meaning multicellular animals performing functions such as constructing the elements of the skeleton, nutrition and reproduction. Ecologically sponges are typically benthic (they live on the seabed) and are almost exclusively marine. There are very few species of fresh water sponges. They feed by filtering water and retaining nutrients which consists mainly of micro-algae, bacteria and protozoa transported to them internally by an interwoven network of channels. Their body shape is extremely varied. To date about 9000 species have been described. In fact, they can be encrusting, meaning a reduction in thickness with a large surface area, tubular-like hollow tubes, similar to cushions or vases. Even their colors and sizes are also very variable with bright colors (yellow, blue, purple, orange, red …) and sizes range from a few millimeters to a few meters in length.
Based on the characteristics of the elements that constitute their skeleton, there is the Calcarea class species or siliceous skeleton sponge and sponges whose skeleton is mostly made up of a network of organic collagen from a structure-derived protein called spongin. It is the peculiarities of the skeleton of these sponges (Demospongiae) which is of commercial interest, used since ancient times as hygiene products, and personal care.
Eco-sustainable tradition and progress
The sponges processed by Rosenfeld Ltd. are fished by professionals with extreme respect for nature and the environment. In the perspective of environmental sustainability and the preservation of marine biodiversity, Rosenfeld Ltd, in collaboration with the Department of Life Sciences, of the University of Trieste and the Cape Eleuthera Institute, has been continuing research projects since 2006. The research project concentrates on the marine biology study of the accretion of some of the valuable species of sea sponges. The research concentrates on the development of techniques for the creation of extensive sponge farming designated marine areas and includes the reproductive characteristics of these organisms in captivity. The species involved in the research are searching the Mediterranean Spongia officinalis, tropical Spongia pertusa and Spongia tubulifera. The experimental farms are located respectively in the Gulf of Trieste and the island of Eleuthera in The Bahamas. Growing cultures of these organisms is as important not only from a commercial aspect, it also has beneficial effects on the environment.