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In spite of a global health crisis, poultry specialist Volys is thriving. 75 years of experience has led the company to create wonderfully easy-to-prepare and high-quality chicken and turkey products, to the delight of local and overseas markets. Ward Vandorpe, marketing manager at Volys takes us back to where it all started, and offers a glimpse into the future of this promising Belgian firm. “As people focus more on healthier lifestyles, chicken and turkey will become the more obvious choice.” 

Volys: celebrating 75 years of excellence in chicken and turkey

Rapid growth

What started as a small chicken slaughterhouse in 1946, grew into a full-blown poultry manufacturer with more than 450 employees and an annual turnover of over 110 million euros. “Volys has always been a story of rapid growth”, explains Ward Vandorpe, marketing manager at Volys. “From launching the first poultry-based charcuterie in Europe to our investments in high-pressure pasteurisation: every Volys milestone has been a trigger for expansion. Because of this, and of ever-growing demand, we opened a second production site in Belgium last year.”

With chicken and turkey as basic ingredients, Volys offers a product range consisting of cold cuts, culinary preparations, breaded products, and turkey bacon. According to Ward, that last one is a real gamechanger. “You get all the flavour of bacon with only 5% of the fat. It’s the best of both worlds, and it fits in precisely with our vision of producing food that is as tasty as it is healthy.”
 

“Turkey bacon is really the best of both worlds: as tasty as it is healthy.” Ward Vandorpe, marketing manager at Volys

One hundred ways to innovate

Turkey bacon is not the only innovation that marked a shift in Volys’ production. “We have a dedicated team that responds to questions from both our B2B and B2C clients as rapidly as possible. Convenience is one of their main priorities. All our products are fully precooked and therefore food safe, and in terms of packaging, we’ve come up with sustainable and practical solutions. We developed all our products to be easily and quickly prepared, whether it’s at home or in an industrial kitchen.”

Another key challenge is to make sure that food stays fresh and flavorsome. “Our culinary products, for example, are cooked in their packaging. That way, the juices stay inside the packaging, resulting in very tender meat.”

“By cooking our meat in its packaging, we keep it flavourful and tender.” Ward Vandorpe, marketing manager at Volys
 

Conquering markets in the Middle East

Internationally, Volys is not only focusing on neighbouring countries but on expanding into Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates as well. In those markets, demand for quality poultry products is growing - all halal, of course. “As a strictly poultry company that has never worked with pork or beef, we’ve managed to create a name for ourselves as a credible halal partner”, Ward continues. “We’ve created some high end halal meats, like premium charcuterie and turkey rashers. They’re an absolute sensation in these markets.”

It could have only been done with one specific innovation: high-pressure pasteurisation (HPP). Ward: “About 12 years ago, we were one of the first companies to invest in HPP technology. Basically, high-pressure pasteurisation is a low temperature, high pressure method of conservation. The high pressure eliminates harmful bacteria and micro-organisms that cause decay. The low temperature better preserves the product's nutritional value, its taste and its freshness”. The technology has allowed Volys to create cold cuts with a shelf life of up to 6 months, making them easy to export and reducing the chances of food waste. 

Sustainability is key

Volys keeps a keen eye on consumers’ rapidly changing demands and the shift towards less meat consumption. “Of course, our core business doesn’t allow us to focus on, say, strict vegetarians”, he admits. “But I do believe that Volys can play an important role for flexitarians. After all, chicken is the most environmentally friendly of all meats. One kilogram of chicken only produces 6.8 kg of CO2. For those who want to steadily lower their meat consumption and their ecological footprint, poultry is the way to go.”

In the end, Volys also withstood the corona crisis quite well. “Our different product categories and target markets were like communicating vessels”, Ward concludes. “We made up for market slowdowns in food services with gains in retail, for example, and the future looks bright. We can definitely celebrate our 75th birthday with optimism.”

“Chicken is the most environmentally friendly of all meat options.” Ward Vandorpe, marketing manager at Volys
 

Want to know more about Volys export? Get in touch with Export Manager Peter Dewaele

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