From a small family owned company to one of the largest processors of vegetables and fruits in Europe: the history of HAK.
The Hak family started selling vegetables and potatoes in the 20’s, focusing solely on the ‘Land van Heusden en Altena’ region in North-Brabant. After several years four sons and one daughter joined the company and together they started working on company growth. The family opened three stores in the area, the first one in Giessen and two more in Dussen and in Werkendam. More and more products (such as liqueurs, cherries in juice and applesauce) were homemade. From day one quality has been priority number one, the Hak family’s first commercial message therefore read “He who always buys the best products will save himself a lot of worries”.
In the year food rationing was ended, the Hak family purchased machines to produce preserved vegetables and fruits on a larger scale. Conservation was – and still is – based on a method originated in 1856 by French army chef François Appert: jars were packed airtight and heated. The German Weck family was first to use a glass jar in this process and linked the name Weck to this method: wecken.
The first HAK factory was opened in Giessen, a village at the time counting only 900 inhabitants. During busy times the principle of ‘neighborly help’ was called upon: inhabitants of Giessen and surrounding villages helped producing on an hourly base. Jars were mainly sold through the stores. But more and more greengrocers started adding HAK to their assortment – additional to fresh vegetables. The HAK company starts to grow.
The HAK factory became the family’s main focus, the three stores (on which the company was built) were therefore closed. The family expanded the factory in Giessen and Aart Hak became CEO. The new bridge at Gorinchem created a solid connection to the region and results in a period of growth. At that time the company counts 140 employees and 38 different varieties of vegetables and fruits are produced and packed in jars and cans of various sizes.
Starting this year HAK exclusively packs all of its vegetables and fruits in glass jars in order to distinguish itself based on quality. The famous HAK jar is developed in cooperation with glasscompany Van Tuyn in Dongen. Glass is hygienic, transparant and consumers can see the product they are buying. HAK starts to truly become a branded product. In addition to choosing the glass jar the slogan became “HAK. What you see is what you get.”
HAK grew –partly due to various takeovers– and celebrates its 25 year anniversary. Production has reached a noteworthy number of 80 million jars and the number of employees had grown to 480! The harvest of vegetables grew in scale as well on large fields in the Flevopolder.
The production capacity at Giessen was further expanded and HAK extended its marketing efforts, partly due to the rising competition within the market.
HAK had become one of the largest processors of vegetables and fruits in Europe. In december 2005 HAK was purchased by an investment company and continued under the wings of Neerlands Glorie. After several years of decline, the takeover resulted in a new period of growth for HAK.
HAK is back! Renewed marketing efforts and a brand new HAK logo and label give HAK a modern look resulting in HAK products communicating reliability and quality.
In 2005 the investment company purchased Jonker Fris as well and combined both companies at the HAK location in Giessen. Production was expanded by adding canned Jonker Fris products. In the following years volume was increased by production of private label products.
A new strategy is implemented with a sole focus on the HAK brand, resulting in production of private labels products to be stopped. HAK quality is prioritized and optimized (in line with how the Hak family used to operate back in the day) and a new marketingcampaign was started at TV, radio, online and print revitalizing the HAK brand.