On 10 October, a special tribute took place in Izegem, organised by the V.I.M. (Friends of the Izegem Museums), to honour Constant Vandemoortele, the visionary founder of Vandemoortele.
In Izegem, the Eperon d'Or museum organises heritage cafés, honouring one historical figure at a time who has made an important impact on the city's economic development. On October 10th, V.I.M. paid tribute to Constant Vandemoortele with a great storytelling of all the milestones in the almost 125 years of Vandemoortele. Jean Vandemoortele, Chairman of the Board, also took the stage.
Izegem: our largest margarine factory
Everyone gathered at our Izegem site, where it all started. This factory is crucial to our company, being the largest margarine factory in the group. Every day, 230 dedicated workers come together in Izegem to shape a tasty future. The entrepreneurship of Constant Vandemoortele in 1899 laid the foundation for the company we know today: employing around 4,600 people in 12 European countries as well as the USA and Asia.
The entrepreneurship of Constant Vandemoortele in 1899 laid the foundation for the company we know today.
Constant Vandemoortele, originally the son of a miller from Oostrozebeke, recognised the growth potential of Izegem and saw opportunities to expand his flour trade. He learned the trade of oil milling from namesakes in Emelgem (a village in the Belgian province of West Flanders and a part of the municipality Izegem) and decided at the age of 51 to start a mechanical oil mill under his own name.
His son, Adhemar, was immediately involved in the business and together, they established their modest factory on the Zuidkaai in Izegem, between the railway and the canal.
1930s: Turning point
During the 1930s, the company starts to shift its focus towards becoming a national producer of edible oils. Where its linseed first primarily catered to the soap and fodder industries.
The transition to food products proved to be a turning point for Vandemoortele. By the time of World War II, our company already produced 20% of the total Belgian table oil.
1960s - 1980s: Impressive growth
In the 1960s to 1980s, the company showed impressive growth and provided employment for many who fled the declining brush and shoe industries. That's how the Belgian city of Izegem, originally known for its brush and shoe industry, came to host a global player that delivers frying oil and margarines to households worldwide
Constant Vandemoortele forever changed Izegem and the food industry. His entrepreneurial spirit led to the establishment of a globally recognised family business. A commemorative plaque, donated by V.I.M., was placed at the Vandemoortele family grave to honour his initiative and lasting economic impact.
The memorial was presented during the heritage café. From left to right: Hilde Colpaert (V.I.M.), Kurt Himpe (Deputy of Culture), Eddy Stragier (V.I.M.), Jean Vandemoortele (Chairman of the board of directors).