Berkel in the world

Map of Berkel factories
Berkel history

From an article of that time:

“In 1898, when William Van Berkel manufactured the first slicing machine to make the slicing of cold meats less tiring and more satisfying, he certainly did not think that, in a few years, he would be an international household name. However, his invention met a genuine need and brought real benefit to butchers. It wasn’t long before it became a valued item and soon his slicing machines could be found across five continents. In fact, after only one year, the first factory was already up and running and more than one hundred machines were launched on the Dutch market, with six hundred the following year. (…) It was still, however, within the borders of only one country: the Netherlands. But Van Berkel’s idea, a really brilliant and revolutionary one, deserved much more.

Very soon, demand for the “Berkel” in foreign markets grew (…). The “Berkel” obtained its first official recognition, being presented at major international fairs. Over the years, Berkel was awarded coveted gold medals at the North-Hansen Fairs (1904), Hamburg (1907), Dusseldorf (1908), Lyon (1913), San Francisco (1916), and Paris (1937).

During the First World War the Van Berkel factory also built combustion engines, lathes and planes for the Dutch army, but soon resumed the manufacture of slicing machines and scales. Their first scale was built in 1929. “

“But even before that time, the expanded and modernized factory in Rotterdam had been unable to meet the requests that were being received from every nation. More factories were built in: Denmark (1905), Sweden, Belgium and Switzerland (1909), United States, South America, Norway, Germany and France (1911), England (1913), Austria, Czechoslovakia and Italy (1924), Canada (1929), Spain and Portugal (1939). World War II hit several Berkel factories hard, beginning with Rotterdam, but the prestige of the name and the tenacity of the management were a sure guarantee for its revival: the smoking factory ruins were built to be even more modern and better equipped than before.

It is not easy to calculate the daily production numbers of the various Berkel factories, but it would not be an exaggeration to say that they certainly exceeded a thousand. It also must be pointed out, though, that this production was to meet the growing demands of the market. Each establishment, while in general devoted to all three “Berkel” products (slicing machines, manual and automatic scales), specialised in certain types, in order to be more responsive to the needs of the surrounding market. Rotterdam focused on high quality slicers and industrial scales, Brussels on specialised scales, Zurich on specific industrial scales, London on the larger slicers and La Porte (USA) on industrial slicers.