An award-winning premium bakery manufacturer that started from a chance meeting at a trade fair in Germany now churns out thousands of pancakes an hour in its fully automated plant in New Plymouth after an extensive period of growth.

Last year Van Dyck Fine Foods, whose employees are primarily local New Plymouth residents, changed its shift pattern to meet customer demand for its pancakes within its grocery channel. The company also services cafés, restaurants, hotels, the aged care sector, and is also a supplier to the lunch in schools’ programme.

The company has a large factory in Bell Block as well as a retail outlet and since August 2021 has been a seven day a week operation, due to customer demand for Marcel’s Pancakes. It was previously a 4am to 11pm operation five days a week. Just a few years ago they had a staff of 30; that’s now increased to 68.

It makes and provides ready-made pancakes, pikelets, crepes and blinis which are sold in the bakery section of most New Zealand supermarkets. Around 70 percent of its pancakes are exported to overseas markets.

Van Dyck Fine Foods brought its love for pancakes from Belgium to New Plymouth 22 years ago, when a New Plymouth baker went to a trade show in Germany where they met Belgians Marcel Naenen and his wife Ingrid Vercammen and convinced them to make a trip to New Plymouth to bring their passion for pancakes.

They did. But they never left New Zealand, and Van Dyck Fine Foods was founded, named after the maiden name of one of the founder’s mother-in-law. The company also produces the Marcel’s Pancakes brand, sold across Australia and Singapore.

Some of Marcel’s Pancakes range (L-R): Merry Blueberry Pancakes, Happy Pancakes and Petite Plant-Powered Pancakes.

On May 8 2022, it was announced that Van Dyck Fine Foods was to be acquired by Oriens Capital ( with settlement on 30 May 2022, from its original founders. Oriens Capital partners with high quality New Zealand businesses with equity investment to support their continued growth.

Van Dyck Fine Foods has received strong support from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. “They provide coaching, training and investment towards activities of our brand and pancakes to overseas consumers,” sales and marketing manager Campbell Fleming said.

“They have been influential in the support they have given us.”

The success of Van Dyck Fine Foods comes down to the quality of its product and returning customers. Fleming knows he is marketing a product for a successful business, and attributes the ongoing success to maintaining a focus on quality and ensuring that people still love their pancakes.

“We have scaled up very quickly but have a very strong culture with a relentless focus on quality. We won’t compromise on that. We’ve got an outstanding product made from the best ingredients that provide convenient solutions for customers. If we get people to try our product, we are comfortable that they will come back again,” he said.

“They love the taste, and they are back for more next week.”

Van Dyck Fine Foods
All of Van Dyck Fine Foods pancakes are frozen for freshness. This keeps them fresh as the moment they were baked!

When asked if almost all staff members were Taranaki residents, Campbell said, “Yeah, and we’re pretty proud of that. It’s important for us to remain a local business: we are employing lots of local people”.

While last year the successful manufacturer had a 30 per cent growth, this year it has already hit 45 per cent. It was also one of five medium businesses who made the finals in last month’s New Zealand International Business Awards.

Van Dyck Fine Foods launched an exciting innovation in the past year in a fibre pikelet and vegan mini pancake. Campbell said both have been big contributors to the results, and the company is looking to extend its product range over the next 12 months.

“Our results are really strong, and as we’ve moved out of lockdowns we’re seeing a shift in Cafes, Hotels, Aged Care facilities looking for ready made products that are simple to prepare, our pancakes fit those criteria, so the outlook is positive.”

In 2019 growth and results were recognised when it won the Large Business Excellence Award at the TSB Taranaki Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards. Earlier, in 2015, it won the Supreme Award.

While Van Dyck Fine Foods is a multimillion-dollar business, its New Plymouth base is important, Fleming says.

“We are employing lots of local people – we all live here. Maintaining relationships with the local community is really important to us.”

Story by Dave Crampton. In partnership with Venture Taranaki.

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