EIT Food, Sense, Rikolto, Special Fruit, Growzer and Groothandel Claessens launch a pilot project to prevent vegetable and fruit surpluses going to waste, with the support of the City of Antwerp. The Spectrum School in Deurne and two branches of the Antwerp IMS School can therefore offer soup made from surpluses twice a week. “A win-win scenario: our students receive healthy food at an accessible rate and at the same time we save food from going to waste”, says Dimitri Meurrens, director of the Maris Stella - Sint-Agnes Institute.
From surplus on the field to rescued food at school
In our current food system, an estimated 30-40% of the food is lost. Some of it is perfectly edible. So why waste food because it hasn't the right colour, shape, or is nearing its expiration date? In response to food waste, EIT Food and hospitality management software company Growzer jointly launched the Get Wasted platform to offer these foods a new purpose.
Wholesalers can offer vegetable residual flows to the social economy at favourable rates on the online circular marketplace. They process these into soups that are then delivered to, for example, schools and retirement homes.
“Today there is no B2B sales market for residual flows and there are no logistics flows,” explains Yana Pannecoucke from EIT Food.
In this first pilot phase, matchmaking is still done manually and testing happens only on a small scale. “Today there is no B2B sales market for residual flows and there are no logistics flows,” explains Yana Pannecoucke from EIT Food. “Together with the partners in the project, we are exploring feasible solutions for all these challenges step by step. We will start with soups and soon we will also start producing smoothies for Antwerp schools.”
Pilot phase for 420 students
IMS sees this project as an excellent opportunity to offer its students healthy soups and smoothies at 2 locations. Dimitri Meurrens, director of the Institute Maris Stella – Sint-Agnes: “Eat good, feel good. We want to give all students at our school the opportunity to eat healthily and feel better.”
The pilot project started last week. Two Antwerp schools were supplied with soup made from the residual flows of tomatoes prepared by the social economy company Sense in the kitchen of Den Bell. About 300 students in the two schools were able to taste the scoop.
The project is not limited to soups only, EIT Food and Rikolto also provide an educational component in the project. Through lessons and workshops in the schools and practical visits to our partners, we familiarize students with food surpluses, local producers and the social economy. This way, we provide the schools with quality food and an educational added value.
“In those early years, future eating behavior is largely determined. If you know how much food is wasted, you also learn how to make a tasty dish with leftovers", says Myrthe Peijnenborg, of Rikolto.
The school is a crucial place to feed the minds as well as the stomachs. “In those early years, future eating behaviour is largely determined. If you know how much food is wasted, you also learn how to make a tasty dish with leftovers," says Myrthe Peijnenborg, of Rikolto, “and then the solution to reducing food waste is closer at hand.”
In addition to purchasing soup, it is also possible for schools to purchase surplus vegetables and fruit directly via Get Wasted. Next week, the Spectrum School in Deurne will be the first official user of the platform to purchase surpluses and process them into soup for 120 first-grade students. “We notice that it is not easy for many of our young people to bring healthy food to school every day. The Spectrum School can accommodate this through this project. Following the healthy breakfast that we regularly offer to our young people, this way we can also provide a healthy lunch in the afternoon”, says Sonja Wellens, deputy director of the Spectrum School.
An Antwerp story with potential
In the coming months, all partners have the ambition to scale up processing surplus vegetables and fruit into soups and smoothies for schools. This gives more wholesalers and producers the opportunity to offer their fruit and vegetable surpluses again via the platform.
"EIT Food offers us the opportunity to prevent waste of residual flows and to create a positive social impact at the same time", says Koen Maes of Special Fruit.
“Everyday food goes to waste because it is not aesthetically perfect or because the demand does not match the supply and vice versa. With perishable products such as fruit and vegetables, the percentage is higher than other foods even when we try to create as little waste as possible. EIT Food offers us the opportunity to prevent waste of residual flows and to create a positive social impact at the same time. Together with our partner Groothandel Claessens, we can offer a selection of healthy fruits and vegetables that might otherwise be thrown away. This circular idea is essential in our vision,” says Koen Maes of fruit and vegetable wholesaler Special Fruit.
If the Get Wasted platform continues to grow, it can also be used for other customers than schools, in order to turn food losses on a larger scale into new opportunities.
Interested schools can register via Rikolto to participate in the next phases of the pilot project. Producers, wholesalers with food surpluses and food processing companies can also participate in the project. They may contact Yana Pannecoucke of EIT Food. More information about the project can be found on the project page.
EIT Food: Yana Pannecoucke, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rikolto: Myrthe Peijnenborg, email@example.com