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NUTRICIA, Zoetermeer, Holland /

The company is NuMiCo now, but at heart we are still Nutricia.
                            Nutricia Employee, Zoetermeer, 2011

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As the technologies of the industrial revolution swept across Europe during the latter half of the 19th Century, the young Martin van der Hagen realised that the new tools and techniques he found at his disposal presented remarkable opportunities for anyone willing to embrace the innovations of the post-steam age.

Though lacking any formal manufacturing qualifications the young entrepreneur invested in a series of innovative business ventures, seeing him plough his money into margarine, then a new invention that had travelled to the Netherlands from France, and shortly thereafter into the traditional dairy trade.  
Sadly the established competition in both arenas proved too strong and, with two factories under increasing financial strain, things did not look good for the young businessman.  However, thanks to his older brother Johannes, a medical doctor in the employ of the public health inspectorate, he was finally introduced to the key to his success - infant formula.  

On hearing of the Backhaus technique that allowed effective infant formula to be produced from cows milk, Martin realised the potential for specialisation rather than fighting it out in the crowded traditional marketplace. Off-loading his Rotterdam factory and, amidst mysterious circumstances, seeing his Zwolle dairy burn to the ground, he moved his entire business operation to the edge of what was then Zegwaart in 1896.

Over the next century the company that became Nutricia grew from the Netherlands first ever commercial baby foods producer into a world-leader in medical dietary products.  Still embodying the idea of innovation and new technologies the Zoetermeer factory today houses automated production lines that are able to produce over one million bottles of dietetic food every day.

What set Nutricia apart from the other industries that passed through the city over generations was the investment the company made in the town - farms, livestock and housing were developed around the factory and remain to this day - but equally lasting was the company investment in the people.  Zoetermeer benefited from the increasing fortunes of the Van der Hagens seeing the fortunes of the company become so entwined with the city that the Nutricia sign overlooking the motorway became a marker for many of returning home.

However, now overshadowed by larger monuments of the 21st century and having become a wholly owned subsidiary of a multi-national food manufacturer, the position of Nutricia in the community is altering as it adapts to a new stage in its development - just as the city looks to forge new relationships as it too grows towards an unknown future.

Made in collaboration with producer Andy Brydon from Curated Place, for the Stadsmuseum Zoetermeer.

This image is also available as a free desktop wallpaper from my Contact Page.

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