From a small family business to one of the very best mushroom-processing companies in the world: the history of Prochamp.
Owner-director Richard Peffer’s father had a mixed-farming business specialising in cattle, fruit and mushrooms. Mushrooms were in those days considered an exclusive product; they were supplied to private customers in the elegant residential areas of the town of Wassenaar.
Growing mushrooms soon proved to be a lucrative business – for both the fresh market and the market of preserved products. Richard Peffer started working for his father’s company. With his progressive outlook and interest in technology he had different views on hard manual labour, and soon came to realise that the work could be done more efficiently and effectively.
With the aid of a bit brace, some gears and a dexterous brother-in-law, Richard Peffer made the very first mushroom-harvesting machine, which was later further enhanced in cooperation with the University of Wageningen. This meant a tremendous evolution in technology and cultivation – from manual labour to mechanisation. It increased the speed of mushroom production by no less than 70% and implied a tremendous reduction in the need for handwork. In 1976 Richard took over his father’s mushroom farm. He also set up a compost business so that his farm would be able to meet its own compost needs.
In 1982 Richard and his brother established a preserved-mushroom company: ‘Gebroeders Peffer Conserven’. Within a few years this company evolved into a full-time professional preserved-mushroom factory. The company not only grew its own mushrooms but also preserved them in its own production chain. The output increased substantially and the company’s market spread across the whole of Europe.
Richard’s brother decided to specialise further with a new system in a mushroom farm of his own. And so 1994 saw the birth of the company Prochamp, which was managed entirely by Richard Peffer. In spite of fierce competition, Richard’s progressive decision to assume complete independent control of the entire chain proved a brilliant move. Along with its new completely mechanised cultivation facilities the new company covered every link in the chain, from compost right through to preservation. Prochamp owes its success to its faith in innovation in difficult times. And as the Netherlands is one of the largest producers of preserved mushrooms, Prochamp evolved into a global player. We are still very proud of that today.
In these years, a new office building and logistics centre were built. All departments within Prochamp were integrated in one location on Laarstraat 2. This meant that we were able to respond to the needs of our clients even better and faster. All in all, an important development in our history, underlining the prompt service, short links and flexibility we take pride in until this very moment and that enabled us to continuously find tailor-made solutions for our clients.
Also in this period, there were new advances in the area of mushroom growing. We constructed a new and modern farmhouse, which further strengthened the integration of the total production chain. Supply and quality of our mushrooms were brought under ever stricter control. Our Quality Controlled Food Chain was further intensified with these developments.
In the meantime the 3rd Peffer generation has joined the company. Richard’s three children are all very enthusiastic about expanding their family company with vision. Their aim is to once again progressively invest in innovation without affecting their company’s identity. So Prochamp will continue to grow, but it will remain a flat, service-focused, flexible organisation thanks to its enthusiastic, committed staff.
Over the years, Prochamp has acquired a worldwide reputation for its high-quality raw materials, modern cultivation facilities and fully certified quality-assurance systems in its cultivation and preservation efforts. Food safety, quality and sustainability are optimally guaranteed.
From left to right: Arjan Peffer (Plant Manager) | Hetty Peffer (Sales Director) | Richard Peffer (President) | Robert Peffer (Compost & Mushroom Production Manager)
Prochamp will continue to operate with the same level of ambition as in the past fifty years. We want to continue to grow, without losing our family character. That’s why we are working hard on expanding our strong A brands and private-label products on an international level. At the same time we will continue to intensify our expertise and boost our image and our customers’ satisfaction. That will enable us to remain a reliable, innovative partner in the future, too. Inventiveness is after all one of our key concerns – in all the links in our chain.