In 1929, Theodorus Sebastianus van der Laan, the company’s founder, started his meat product factory in The Hague. After the Second World War, they began exporting canned meat. Initially there was a strong focus on the United States and the United Kingdom, with products like hams and luncheon meat. In the 60s and 70s, the export markets were expanded to include dozens of countries worldwide, due to the enterprising spirit of the then CEO/owner A.M. (Aat) van der Laan.
In the early 80s, the group’s directors decided to move the head office from Leidschendam to Almelo, and in 1983 a canning factory was launched in Almelo. In addition to expanding canning production, further capital was invested in the meat product group.
In the 80s and 90s, the company bought slaughterhouses to secure the supply of its main ingredient – meat. These slaughterhouses, including those in the Dutch cities of Doetinchem and Lievelde, were sold in 2001 to the then Dumeco Group, providing for Th.S. van der Laan to further expand its core operations (meat products, canned meats and specialty products).
Between 1981 and today, various companies in the Netherlands were acquired, mostly with their own production facilities. These enterprises were then expertly integrated with other sites to ensure optimum efficiency and quality.
In 1996, the company acquired the brand names Zwanenberg and Zwan. This gave an important fresh boost to the concern’s exports, especially in the Middle East and Africa. In that year, Zwanenberg Food Group obtained its license for making pate and meat products under the brand name Linera.
‘Drogeworst’ (dried sausage) specialist Huls was acquired in 1998. That was followed by Hooymans (tongue and liver specialities, 1999), Offerman (1999), Kraak (sliced meat products), Boekos (snacks, later known as Taste Original Food Concepts, 2001), CMP (precooked meat products and mealtime components, 2003), ANUR Halal Food (2005), De Eendracht (tongue products, 2008) and Wahid Halal Meat (2011).
In 2005, Zwanenberg’s board of management decided that local production in the United States was a better idea than export. In record time, a meat canning factory was built in Cincinnati. In 2007, the American canning operations of Tyson were acquired, as was Vietti Foods in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2011. On another continent, Australia, Zwanenberg acquired the Plumrose brand from Simplot in 2008. In 2013, Malton Foods in the northern part of England was acquired, and Simpsons Ready Meals in 2016.
At the end of 2017, the Business Unit Fresh Foods was sold to Belgian Ter Beke. At the beginning of 2018 Zwanenberg acquired the Unox factory in Oss from Unilever. Unilever remained owner of brands such as Knorr, Unox and Bertolli.
Today, Zwanenberg Food Group has grown into a successful international enterprise with its own sales offices in the Benelux, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia