Agristo isn’t called Agristo yet. But its story has already begun. Childhood friends Antoon Wallays and Luc Raes see a future in frozen vegetables. So, together with Antoon’s father, Etienne, they founded Agrigel. They both have farming in their DNA. Antoon harvests vegetables during the holidays and discovers a fascination for agricultural machinery. Luc purchases vegetables from farmers as part of his first job at Begro.
A vegetable processing factory to call home
Antoon and Luc want autonomy. They buy out two bankrupt companies in Germany. They bring all the machinery across to Harelbeke, where they also set up their headquarters. The vegetable processing factory officially commences operations in June 1986. In September 1987, Agrigel switches to processing potatoes into fries. The initial export markets are France and Germany.
Initial production of 20 000 tonnes
Agrigel becomes Agristo
In 1989, Antoon and Luc discover another company of the same name. Agrigel is a registered trademark in France. This fact comes to light thanks to the Tour de France. Greg Lemond wins one of the most tense time trials ever. And what does it say on his jersey? Agrigel! Sadly not the Agrigel from Harelbeke. It’s free advertising, but we can’t continue using that name. In 1990, we christen our business Agristo.
Acquisition of the site in Tilburg
At the start of the new millennium, Agristo crosses the border into the Netherlands. We acquire a new production unit in Tilburg. We need it as our capacity and turnover are growing very fast. And so eight years later we commissioned a new production line for large volumes. In 2012, we install an Automated High Bay Cold Store.
Hitting the 200 000 tonnes mark
Takeover of the site in Nazareth
In 2011, Agristo takes over Willequet, a company based in Nazareth. In 2015, we start building a new Automated High Bay Cold Store there, too, capable of storing 17.5 million kilograms of fries!
Prepping the second generation
The second generation are here. The company’s founders Antoon Wallays and Luc Raes think it’s high time to pass on the baton to their children Kristof, Carmen and Filip Wallays and Dieter and Hannelore Raes. They appoint Dirk Decoster as an external, temporary CEO. An outside eye to keep the transition on track.
New production site in Wielsbeke
A fresh burst of growth in West-Flanders: Agristo buys the old Unilin sites in Wielsbeke. In late 2017, production starts with one line, swiftly followed by a second line. We have big ambitions: to be the most innovative fry factory in the world. Some €200 million is invested to make that dream a reality.
A new generation at the helm
Filip Wallays and Hannelore Raes step forward as co-CEOs. Kristof, Carmen and Dieter join forces in the management committee. The senior management team is joined by a further five colleagues that already earned their stripes at Agristo.
Hitting the 700 000 tonnes mark
Passing of founder Luc Raes
Fate intervenes in June 2019. Luc Raes dies in a tragic accident. A terrible loss for the family and for Agristo.
New headquarters in Wielsbeke
Agristo marks its 35th birthday. It celebrates by moving its headquarters from Harelbeke to its new site in Wielsbeke. The new building is more than just a workplace. Every brick exudes our vision and dynamic working culture. Aesthetics and simplicity go hand-in-hand with sustainability and collaboration. And these remain the foundations on which we build our innovation. In other words, Agristo is ready for the future!
Hitting the 1 million tonnes mark
Agristo is the first exporter of frozen fries to the moon.