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Maxime Valencon Wallonia
Maxime Valençon, CEO de Maison Valençon à l'ISM 2024_WalloniaBE

Maison Valençon, the producer of sweet treats, is dedicated to reintroducing 100% artisanal Belgian delights based on simple and delicious traditional recipes. It was at the International Sweet & Snacks Fair (ISM) in Cologne that we had the opportunity to meet Maxim Valençon, the CEO of Maison Valençon, to share the story of his company, international plans, and of course, taste some of their creations. Waffles, pancakes, speculoos, and bombettes – everything is delightful at Valençon!


It All Starts with Cracked Eggs

It was in 1994. In the agricultural region on the Herve plateau near Liège, the Detry family was known for their egg-laying hens and distributed their products throughout Wallonia. However, egg production led to significant breakage, and a substantial part of the stock became unsuitable for distribution. To minimize losses, the family ventured into preparing and selling waffles as a complement to their activities.

The success was such that the production of waffles and other sweets, such as speculoos and "kisses" (if you're unfamiliar, find out here), became the primary focus of the family's activities. Avigauf was born. By the mid-2000s, the family-owned company had only four employees.

To diversify and modernize operations, Avigauf was acquired by the Valençon family in 2021, giving rise to the eponymous Maison Valençon. The sellers, Mr. and Mrs. Detry, handed over their expertise and workshop to the new family, aiming to continue transmitting the local and artisanal values of the Maison while infusing their touch of innovation.

Product sales continue both in short circuits (shops connected to the workshop, fairs, local markets) and long sales circuits in supermarkets in Belgium, some in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, northern France, and the Parisian region.

In full growth, Maison Valençon sells products developed in its own workshops or offered by other artisanal producers and creators (C du belge). The company now has about fifteen employees and is looking for new premises in its region to expand and increase production.


Like My Granny !

The signature recipe, the historic product, Maison Valençon's best-seller, is the 'grandmother' waffle. It is always made from the original recipe of the Detry family's grandmother. "It's our 'emotion' product, our flagship item along with filled pancakes. In short, it's what sells the best, and we produce it directly in our workshop," says Maxime Valençon, CEO of the eponymous Maison. "Our success comes from offering a product that is both artisanal and local but easily accessible because we are distributed in the major stores in Belgium, fine grocery networks, and local shops. We are well-positioned between industrial preparations and specialties, albeit homemade, but only available very locally, such as in markets or bakeries."

Beyond classic products, Maison Valençon continues its development by introducing new products, created in collaboration with artisans and workshops in the region. This provides an opportunity to increase production and sales volumes. "Bombettes, little hearts... these treats allow us to test new recipes with our customers and respond quickly to large orders, anywhere in Europe," adds Maxime.

Speaking of 'Europe,' it's an opportunity to find out where to get 'Made-In-Valençon' products. On international fairs such as the International Sweet & Snacks Convention in Cologne, Maison Valençon teams present and let delegations from around the world taste their products with the aim of distributing them beyond Belgian borders. "We are currently expanding into neighboring regions of Belgium, namely northern France, Paris, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Denmark, and of course, Germany. Just a little more patience, and our treats will be available everywhere. And if you can't wait any longer, you can always place an order on our website, it only takes a few clicks!"


Waffles, biscuits, confectionery – Belgian delights exports well

In 2022, the agri-food sector in Wallonia represented 9.1% of foreign sales (8.3% in 2021), making it the third most important sector for the value of Walloon exports. In the biscuit sector, the region has 80 companies employing over 3700 people, with a turnover of €1.2 billion. Nearly 330,000 tons of biscuit products were prepared, of which 170,000 tons were exported. On average, Belgians consume 7.2 kg of biscuits each year.

Complementary and often inseparable abroad, the heavyweights in chocolate and confectionery generate a turnover of €5 billion for 650,000 tons sold abroad. 262 companies employing 8500 workers contribute to showcasing Belgian and Walloon food around the world.

Several regional brands have gradually become world leaders in their sectors and are now essential abroad, such as Avieta (frozen waffles), Libeert (hollow chocolates), and Couplet Sugars (crystallized sugar for confectionery, chocolate, and biscuit production).