Belgian-born Prosper De Mulder arrived in Britain before the First World War and initially set up a dairy products business in Stafford.
De Mulder acquired an abattoir and horsemeat processor in Doncaster’s Ings Road in 1926, moved his family to a house further down the road and started building a business that sold meat to customers in Britain and continental Europe.
His son, who was also called Prosper and who died earlier this year, aged 92, was widely credited with developing or seeking out new processing technologies that would boost the efficiency of the company and take it into new areas.
One of his main aims was to find a use for what was known as “the fifth quarter” – parts of the animal that people preferred not to eat or were not considered suitable for human consumption.
He acquired some cookers and began batch processing the left over material to extract fat and protein and then introduced technologies that could do that continuously.
Thanks to his passion for inventing, developing and new technology, the business grew into the biggest operation of its kind in the UK.
Leftovers for power
Prosper De Mulder has remained at the forefront for adopting new technologies that help to ensure that as much food waste as possible is put to productive use, instead of ending up in costly landfill sites.
The group has an annual turnover in excess of £200 million and employs more than 1,000 people at 23 sites.
Products include ingredients for major food manufacturers, beef dripping, lard, frying fat and oils, dried, chilled and frozen meat ingredients for the pet food industry and products used in the cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and steel industry.
The group built on its frying fat business by moving into supplying fish, food containers, canned drinks and other products to fish and chip shops and fast food outlets.
Prosper De Mulder operates plants that generate heat and power by safely burning unused or unusable food, including animal by-products that are unfit or unsafe for animal or human consumption.
It runs what promises to be the first of a number of plants using microbes to break down waste food to produce biogas that can fuel generators producing heat and power and a nutrient-rich liquid fertiliser for use by arable farmers.
Last year, Saria Bio-Industries, a German family-owned firm that is the leading food waste processor in Europe, acquired a 51pc stake in the business, becoming co-owners with members of the founding family, including the founder’s grandson Anthony. Prosper De Mulder continues to be run by its British board.