Antarctic Foods’ search for an innovative value-added product to supplement its frozen vegetable range has met with Cornquet. The cornmeal croquette specialty, developed by Sietse Van Haute, features polenta and a golden brown, crispy fried coating.
Three flavors were available to taste at the October 21-25 SIAL exhibition in Paris: Veneto, featuring a traditional Italian recipe; Marrakech, accented with the spices of Morocco; and Fine Herbs, featuring specially selected herbs and natural extracts of peas, mushrooms, tomato, onion, coriander, turmeric, cumin, pepper, fenugreek, chili, cardamon, thyme, bay leaf, parsley, garlic, chives and dill. Distribution is in 0.5 kg, 1 kg and 2 kg boxes, and the primary market is the foodservice sector in Europe.
“Polenta is a delicious product from northern Italy based on corn semolina. To make it, corn is ground and then put in boiling water,” explained Van Houte. “After an hour of regular stirring, transformation into a smooth, tasty and whole polenta is the tasty result.”
Already in March the product was saluted at the Tavola fair in Kortrijk, where it was a winner in the Golden Tavola Traiteur category competition. Jurists unanimously agreed that it serves up as a creative side dish for meat, fish or vegetarian meals.
“We are bringing great diversity to the plate with this product, which is made with artisanal skill in Waregem and then quick frozen to insure freshness and quality.” Said Herwig Dejonghe, managing director of Roeselare, Belgium-headquartered Antarctic Foods. He has invested in the future of Cornquet and aims to supplement its flavor profile by adding Shrimpquet and Cheesequet to the portfolio.
The main business of Dejonghe’s company is processing and freezing vegetables that are primarily sourced in the southwest of France, where it does business as Antarctic Foods Aquitaine. The range includes sweet corn, carrots, beans, peas, salsifies and potatoes.
Heading up the operation as plant manager in Ychoux is Herwig’s son, Francois. In Belgium, son-in-law Mathieu Vercaigne works as commercial director based at the headquarters office in West Flanders.
All Systems Up and Running
Antarctic Foods is 100% on line again following a destructive factory fire in June of 2017 that destroyed energy supply and maintenance facilities, resulting in interrupted production for about a year and a half. The recent installation of a new freezing tunnel at the refurbished plant has the potential to boost output by at least 50%. Its efficiency is further enhanced by a state-of-the-art Veryx optical sorter.
The European Union Regional Development Fund provided Antarctic Foods with a €629,000 grant to supplement an €2,097,000 investment to reinstate processing and packaging lines following the blaze.
Antarctic Foods is now in full swing, able to supply all customer sectors from retail and foodservice to industrial further processors. Its organic carrots are sold at Auchan retail stores under the Larrere brand, and the company is ranked as one of southwest France’s largest frozen vegetable suppliers to the baby food industry.
Dejonghe, whose family roots in the vegetable business span four generations, is very pleased that five members of his family are currently working at the company and dedicating full energy to its success.
“We have a winning combination that welcomes the talents of the founder of Cornquet. Bringing him onto our team is a win-win situation for all, and he will have the feeling of being an independent entrepreneur.”
Reflecting on a long and productive career in the frozen vegetable field, Dejonghe noted that he has attended the biennial SIAL exhibition every two years for the past four decades. “I remain as passionate about the business today as on my first day at Pinguin, which was pioneered by an earlier generation of Dejonghes in 1965,” said Herwig. “We are very optimistic about what lies ahead and embrace the future with vigor.” – Reported by John Saulnier