New Headquarters for Antarctic Foodies and BE Delicious
The grand opening of the Noordstraat 140 Business Center was a grand day for the Dejonghe family, as more than 300 friends, colleagues and customers attended the event in Roeselare, Belgium, on April 29. Cutting the ribbon to ceremoniously inaugurate the facility, which serves as the headquarters of Antarctic Foodies and BE Delicious, as well as offices for the Clementine creative and audiovisual agency, and other entrepreneurial start-up firms, was Mayor Kris Declercq.
Herwig Dejonghe, president and chief executive officer of Antarctic Foodies and the Antarctic Foods Aquitaine frozen vegetable company, as well as the initiator and driving force of the BE Delicious vehicle to promote Belgian artisan food and drink specialties abroad, welcomed guests along with his wife Mieke, daughters Hannelore, Lieselot and Barbara, and son Francis.
The spacious complex, which formerly housed a brewery and later a coffee roasting operation, is comprised of three buildings featuring historic architectural heritage which has been respected and preserved, even as interiors were redesigned by Francis Dejonghe and fabricated under his direction to provide modern functionality accentuated with a relaxed woody ambiance.
Included in the layout is a large conference room, complete with vintage theatre seats, where Herwig Dejonghe delivered a well-received speech about the past, present and future of his enterprising family. With commercial roots in vegetable grading, trading and transport dating back to the early 1960s, André (Herwig’s uncle), Frans and Georges Dejonghe established Pinguin, the first frozen vegetable processing factory in Belgium, during 1965.
Herwig, who served as Pinguin’s chief executive officer for almost two decades before assuming the position of chief operating officer at Greenyard Foods for several years, left the Group to run Pinguin Aquitaine SAS as an independent owner on January 15, 2015. The Ychoux, France-based processing company, which today operates as Antarctic Foods Aquitaine, is engaged in the trimming, cutting, blanching and freezing of vegetables and fruits. Distribution of finished products, which at the moment is largely to the industrial further-processing sector, is in bulk octabins, wooden boxes, bags and pouches.
While high-quality sweet corn has been the main product, baby carrots, sliced and diced carrots, green beans and green peas are also produced in significant quantities. Dejonghe intends to place more emphasis on carrots in the future.
“I started without a carrot line, but last year did 10,000 tons,” he told FrozenFoodsBiz.com. “There is strong demand for baby carrots. Peas, both organic and non-organic, are doing well, and salsify is a niche item which we supply from France.”
BE Delicious Flies Belgian Culinary Flag
Meanwhile, the BE Delicious group of Belgian artisanal food companies, which now numbers 24, has been chosen to cooperate as a structural partner for the Food.be campaign launched by FEVIA, Belgium’s Food and Drink Federation. With the mission of promoting Belgian food culture throughout the world, an important part of the effort is supplying the nation’s embassies with specialties ranging from shrimp and cheese croquettes and other appetizers, to meat and fish delicacies, chocolate, ice cream and traditional desserts.
“A successful presentation was made in Singapore last month, and orders have been received from Vietnam, Chile and Rome,” said Dejonghe. “Additionally, BE Delicious delivered snacks for a Belgian culinary evening marking the festive opening of a new event hall at the Hilton Opera Paris that was attended by Ambassador Vincent Mertens de Wilmars and his wife. Matching beers were served from the range of Duvel Moortgat.”
Also targeted will be opportunities for distribution of Belgian-sourced food treats during holidays and at special occasions such the European football championships and other major sporting and cultural events that are celebrated by Belgian expatriates and their friends and guests abroad.
There is surely no shortage of fine culinary fare to choose from, as the BE Delicious list of products and suppliers includes, in part: North Sea Grey Shrimp Croquettes from Antarctic Foodies of Roeselare; Shrimp Bisque from Lobster Fish of Deerlijk; Flandrien Cheese from Triporteur of Wervik; Cooked Ham from Chimay Tradition of Baileux-Chimay; Flemish Stew from Cookking-Jebo Food of Bruges; Belgian Blue Beef Tartare from Q-Group of Lokeren; premium vegetables from Foods with Roots of Oostduinkerke; Brussels Waffles from Dely Waffles of Mouscron; pancakes from Beauvoords Bakhuis of Veurne; vegetarian dishes from Vega Bites of Lokeren; Moeulleux with ice cream from Just Ice of Oudenaarde; and pralines from Chocolaterie Dumon of Torhout.
“Small Country. Great Food.” That’s the motto of Food.be, and for good reason. The Brussels-based arm of FEVIA, which notes that gastronomic qualities of Belgian dishes are based on a historical savoir faire and cultural commitment, goes on to say in no uncertain terms:
“Belgian cuisine is one of the most highly praised in Europe, and is renowned for its delicious taste and quality. This reputation is well deserved, since Belgium is one of those countries where good food is not a hollow phrase, but a veritable part of the country’s culture. Belgians love high-quality cuisine and enjoy sharing it in good company.”
By last count, the national food industry consists of 4,532 companies that employ 88,537 people. Almost 55% of the enterprises are small to mid-size. Turnover in the sector totaled EUR 48 billion in 2014, of which 81% was generated by firms in Flanders. Nearly EUR 22.9 billion was earned from exports, and the food and drink industry’s positive balance of trade amounted to EUR 3.9 billion. – Reported by John Saulnier