Poppies Company History
1976 - 1989
Establishment of POPPIES
Luc Popelier's dream was to bake his biscuits on an industrial scale and to present his products to the entire world. His dream came true when in 1976 two families – Luc & Monique Popelier and Frans & Roos Castelein joined forces and established the Poppies company. A year later, in 1977, they started production of industrial cookies and pastries (puff pastries, macaroons and profiteroles) in Moorslede, Belgium.
Move to Zonnebekke
Poppies expanded in 1990 with the brand new production site in Zonnebeke. Two production lines were set up to meet ongoing demands. In the meantime the Popelier's and Castelein's took on a new challenge, namely to create deep frozen pastries entirely in the spirit of the artisan Popelier bakery.
1991 - 1994
First production of Profiteroles
Through sheer hardword and determination to realise their dreams, the first batch of Profiteroles came down the line for their first customer.
New extension to the portfolio – Délices de Comines
The cookies product range was further extended and a second production site was opened in Comines, on the French/Belgian border, under the name of Délices de Comines. That year also saw the launch of the famous crispy rolled cookies or “cigarettes.” The families also worked on a considerable extension of the coconut product range in the Délices de Comines site. This site eventually became highly specialised in coconut-based pastries and crispy rolled cookies.
Launch of deep frozen mini eclairs
After the growing success of the Profiteroles, both families concentrated on extending the range. Eclairs and Mini-Eclairs were added to the growing portfolio of frozen desserts.
ISO 9002 certification
Poppies have always followed the HACCP philosophy in its production. But quality is more than HACCP – it implies constant quality and taste, consistency in composition and production. Great efforts were put into a progressive quality system, resulting in ISO 9002 certification being obtained in
Acquisition of Biscuiterie Willems
There is no biscuit more Flemish than the caramelised biscuit. A special, secret mix gives the caramelised biscuits its typical sharp, sweet flavour. Biscuiterie Willems, a specialised caramelised biscuit bakery, was acquired by the Poppies group in 1998 as the ideal complement to the existing Poppies product range.
Pretzels, another famous Flemish heritage
In the meantime, the company had new plans and ideas for the Zonnebeke site. The Poppies bakers began production of another traditional Flemish delicacy: pretzels or “krakelingen.” These biscuits are traditionally produced with puff pastry, baked until light and crispy. The finishing with coarse grains of sugar enhances its crunchiness.
An even wider choice of dry biscuits
The passion for the noble profession of baking led the Poppies Zonnebeke site to produce another Flemish icon: apricot lattice slices or "carrés confitures". These pastries are made with puff pastry and apricot jam. They are baked until crisp and crunchy, with the jam giving a caramelly and fruity touch. Typical too, is its “maze” shape of the top layer, which this artisan bakery product is renowned for.
American dream leads to Poppies Inc.
Poppies had long been aware of the market potential for its products in America. In 1997, the first steps towards a Belgo-American operation were taken with an interested American wholesaler. As sales rose, Poppies moved swiftly to set up its first branch in America: Poppies International Inc.
25th anniversary of Poppies and a year of acquisitions
Poppies celebrated its 25th anniversary in October 2001. 25 years of growth, constantly gaining expertise and exploring new markets. For all Poppies employees, this was an opportunity to reflect on past achievements and look forward to future developments. The perfect occasion also for a big birthday party. Our customers joined the celebrations and witnessed the making of the world’s biggest ever “croquembouche.”
The new century also brought new acquisitions to enlarge the Poppies group. This time, it was the EM Biscuits company in the Belgium city of Wevelgem, specialised in the Flemish “carré confiture” or apricot lattice slices and almond flavoured slices or “frangitarte.”
Production of filled waffles was taken over from the Jeanette company in Roncq, France. Later the production was moved to the Délices de Comines site in Comines, Belgium.
In a further acquisition, the Berlidon company in the South of France joined the growing Poppies groups. This bakery, is known for its frozen beignets and donuts. Beignet, synonymous with the English "fritter", is the French term for a pastry made from deep-fried choux pastry.
The US site was getting into operation. The first day of production was inextricably linked to American history, as it was on 9/11 that the first profiterole emerged from the oven.
A brand new site for Biscuiterie Willems
Biscuiterie Willems moved its production activities into an entirely new site in Eeklo, Belgium. A brand new building and state-of-the-art equipment turned this bakery into a flagship site, ready for the future. The two fully automated production lines for caramelised biscuits enabled the company to respond to specific customer requests in a more efficient and flexible way than ever before.
The list of acquisitions continued with Delizza Patisserie, USA, a producer of deep frozen profiteroles and dipped mini-eclairs.
Consolidation in the UK market with the acquisition of Icefresh Foods
The UK has always been a very important yet very specific market for Poppies. After years of close collaboration with Icefresh Foods, which represents and distributes Poppies’ branded and private label products in the UK Icefresh Foods joined the Poppies family.
Start up of Poppies GmbH
Poppies has always considered the German market as having great potential. A centrally managed Poppies sales force succeeded in conquering particular segments of the market. With the establishment of Poppies GmbH, penetration of the German market was able to go ahead at an even faster pace.
Poppies Netherlands Established
With the acquisition of Culi d'Or in the town of Melissant, Netherlands Poppies were able to establish 'Poppies Netherlands'. The company in Melissant opened in 1987 with the production of ice cream and pastry. The focus turned to frozen pastry, and continues today where we produce mini eclairs, profiteroles and bavarois.
Poppies enter in to a joint venture with Delikatess Bageriet
The Delikatess Bageriet factory is based in Ekeby, Sweden and produces muffins, cookies and biscuits.
40th Anniversay year
Today, in our 40th year, we proudly continue the tradition that started in 1935. The Poppies International group now has 10 production sites: five in Belgium, one in France, one in the Netherlands, one in Sweden and two in the USA. A worldwide network of sales organisations is working hard to introduce Poppies in other countries too.
Throughout our history, respect for the tradition of the artisan bakery craft has always remained prominent. It is combined with our drive to constantly surprise the markets with new creations and innovative flavours. We’d love to see the whole world indulge in our cookies and pastries!