In 1946, Michel, son of André Laurent, was a 14-year old apprentice butcher. Three years later, he became a farmer when his parents had an accident and were laid up for several months. His early training was to prove extremely useful in hte immediate post-war period. Butchers, salters and restaurant owners were keen to buy his vegetable sauerkraut with production increasing rapidly and steadily from 800 tons in the 1950's to 9000 tons in the 1990's. He reinvested all the money he earned in production units. In 1960, he built his first sauerkraut canning plant, perfecting his equipment as the years went by: autoclave, labelling machin, glass fiber vats, doypack bagging machine, can sealing machine, weighing machine, etc. At the same time, production was expanding, with 17,000 tons of cabbages being produced today, 2/3 of which are produced in partnership with a consortium of growers.
When he became boss of a small business, Michel quickly came to realise that recipes would have to evolve, whilst convinced that there was a gap in the marcket for traditional, home-style food, based on standard and reliable products, with a reputation for quality. Sold plain in the beginning, Laurent vegetable sauerkraut was later produced with added bacon pieces, grapes or champagne. Traditional canning methods partly gave way to new formats. The Laurent Company provided butchers with vacuum-packed sauerkraut, which the consumer can accompny with the fresh cooked meat of his choice. The Laurent company has been able to grasp and anticipate successive technological advances: the 33 lbs bulk replaced the wooden barrel in the '70's, then cooking and vacuum packing were adopted to broaden the range. Today, 8.8, 17.6, 35.2 oz portions are commonplace and the R&D department is working on forms of packaging for the future.