A gingerbread factory was at the cradle of what is now Astra Sweets. It was established in 1924 on the initiative of the firm Van Deun. Four years later the foundation was laid for the production of the present-day confectionery.
In 1987, the Vanherpe Group acquired the factory and renamed it Astra Sweets. Immediately thereafter, construction began on a new plant that came into service two years later. Over subsequent years, Astra Sweets has grown steadily; our production capacity has doubled and we operate continuous shifts.
Acquisition of Belgica
In 1992, Belgica was acquired by Astra Sweets and underwent a name change to Belgica TOP. The acquisition gave Astra Sweets an additional product group: Flying Saucers. In 2012, Astra Sweets Flying Saucers were declared an official regional product of Flanders. The sherbet filled rice paper discs were first produced in the 1950s and are still made today using the original recipe!
Acquisition of Dutch confectionery plants
In 1999, the Vanherpe Group took an important next step. It acquired two confectionery plants in the Netherlands from Cadbury Schweppes. Faam and Frisia®: at the time, Faam produced wine gums and liquorice drops in Breda and Frisia® manufactured marshmallows in Harlingen. Both companies continued under the name of Astra Faam B.V. In August 2000, the remaining gingerbread production operations were sold and Astra Sweets concentrated fully on confectionery. The De Faam production plant in Breda relocated to Turnhout in January 2014.
Faam and Frisia®.
The history of De Faam goes back to 1838. In that year, confectioner, confiturier and shopkeeper Henricus Bont developed confectionery in Breda. His son Petrus Antonius is the founder of De Faam. The company grows under his leadership into a major confectionery plant, until De Faam is acquired in 1964 by Bassett's of England.
In 1988, when De Faam celebrates its 150th anniversary, Confectionery Plant Frisia® in Harlingen is acquired. This plant dates from 1899 and produces marshmallows under the brand name Frisia®. In 1989, Cadbury Schweppes acquires Bassett's and De Faam and Frisia® come into the hands of the multinational. The name changes into Cadbury Faam, and the Faam and Frisia® brands continued to exist.
Belgica runs like a common thread through the history of Astra Sweets. The company develops a product in 1900 that facilitates the ingestion of pharmaceutical powder. The Belgian company launches a small, round, flat capsule made of starch that is easy to swallow when filled with power. This is the forerunner of the present-day Flying Saucer, also known as ouwel or zure hostie, and is a key product in the Astra Sweets range. The letters TOP in Belgica TOP stand for Turnhoutse Ouwel Productie.