At least five billion euros of perfectly good food is wasted annually in the Netherlands. Founder Bob Hutten could no longer tolerate the loss of so much opportunity. He decided to find a solution by putting food industry surpluses to good use. Hutten laid his hands on an empty manufacturing plant in Veghel, where he installed elaborate production and cooling systems. With a sustainable impact loan from The Rabo Bank, De Verspillingsfabriek, in English: The Surplus Food Factory, opened its doors. The Surplus Food Factory has gathered its food surplus knowledge and expertise at one location. Cooperative efforts and assistance from like-minded partners is essential to achieving our collective dream: to abolish the waste of both food and talent throughout the world.
The Surplus Food Factory has an important point of departure: namely, to take surplus food destined for human consumption and recover it for the same purpose. We see the devaluation of surplus food to animal feed and bio-fermentation as a form of waste. We believe that it is essential to stay high on Moerman’s waste hierarchy ladder by engaging in prevention, reuse and recycling. Our goal is to manufacture cost-effectively within two years, while providing a large group of people less fortunate than most, with new job opportunities. While actively decreasing waste in the food chain, we want our factory to inspire others globally to tackle questions on the subject in order to make a real difference. This is how we will measure our mission success.
Despite government targets set years ago, waste in the food chain is not on the decrease. The most important reasons for this unfortunate situation are:
The “Plus” supermarket chain bought our very first soups made from surplus ingredients for twelve of its Dutch locations. These rescued-ingredient soups were put on the shelves under the brand name “OverLekker” (which means “TooGood”). Although our first activity in surplus-soup production was prepared in our company’s own “Hutten” professional kitchen facility, one thing led to another and the idea for the The Surplus Food Factory took off like a rocket ship. We are proud that the the soups manufactured in the The Surplus Food Factory have not only been purchased by the wholesaler “Sligro”, but they are in fact for sale at their “Emte’” supermarket chain under the brand name “Barstensvol”. We believe that it is essential that retail chains participate in the acquisition of rescued food products, because this makes the production process feasible on a large scale. Their active support is part of the prevention process. This makes it possible for surplus food to be introduced into the food system, rather than being channeled into animal feed production or for use in land fills.
We are inspired by the age-old saying “Meedoen is belangrijker dan winnen” which means “Collaboration is more important than winning”. This expression reflects both our principle and our mission: we will only have true impact when every participant in the food chain actively engages in the reduction of waste.
Bob Hutten, General Manager Hutten