ZuiderZwam is a company that collects coffee waste from cafes/restaurants and the municipality to produce oyster mushrooms in the city of Tilburg, the Netherlands.
TIAS School for Business and Society
“Three times a week I drive my yellow electric Tuk Tuk to the cafes, restaurants and municipality to collect the coffee waste. Currently there are 6 cafes/restaurants and the Tilburg municipality that provide around 80 kilos of coffee waste to ZuiderZwam every week,” tells Jacqueline van Eerd, the owner of ZuiderZwam.
Jacqueline mixes the coffee waste with other ingredients and uses it to cultivate mushrooms in "Ut Rooie Bietje," where she has her office. After five to six weeks, when the mushrooms are fully grown, Jacqueline sells them back to the cafes/restaurants that provide her the coffee waste. The mushrooms are priced around 12 euro per kilo, which is 30% higher than the market average, but the cafes/restaurants are willing to pay because they like the idea of organic mushrooms grown in a sustainable way, and it is also good marketing for them.
In the future, ZuiderZwam will “focus more on value-added products and services related to oyster mushrooms rather than just growing mushrooms.” Some of the products and services that ZuiderZwam currently offers, apart from oyster mushrooms, are dried mushrooms, oyster mushroom bitterballen (a Dutch savoury snack), oyster mushroom kits and workshops/tours. Jacqueline also considers using solar panels to generate energy.
“After working for several years in the education sector, I wanted to do something new. I received a mushroom grow kit as a present from my husband made by RotterZwam, a company that produces oyster mushrooms from coffee waste in Rotterdam. I felt very interested in the project and took the Mushroom Master program with them for 4 days, during which I learnt how to run the mushroom business.”
In 2016 Jacqueline decided to start the business at "Ut Rooie Bietje,, an organic market garden in Tilburg that offers homeless people or people who have difficulty finding work the opportunity to earn some money. She used to be a volunteer there, and the owner of the garden was pleased with her idea to start ZuiderZwam on their property. At the beginning, she started with two bags of oyster mushrooms and put them in the facility. Eventually with 1,200 euros from crowdfunding, Jacqueline bought 20’ containers and a toilet wagon to grow the mushrooms, and the business picked up and grew. The business is a result of her own endeavors, with a little help sometimes from homeless people and volunteers working in the garden.
Drinking coffee is part of Dutch culture. However, we only use a small part of the coffee to make a cup of coffee. ZuiderZwam raises local awareness about food waste and encourages local consumption. Furthermore, by operating in "Ut Rooie Bietje," ZuiderZwam gives homeless people an opportunity to work and a feeling of belonging to the society.
Currently Jacqueline sells oyster mushrooms at 12 euro/kilo which is 30% higher than the market average. Maximum sales are 15-20 kilo/week, which makes almost 1,000 euro/month. This is not enough for a living. Therefore Jacqueline expands the sales to: 1) food made from oyster mushrooms, for example oyster mushroom bitterballen and kroketten (Dutch snacks) that she supplies to local cafes/restaurants and the municipality; 2) oyster mushroom growing kit sets that customers can use to grow their own mushrooms at home; and 3) organizing workshops and tours. For the future, Jacqueline plans to focus on these activities more than selling fresh oyster mushrooms because they produce more revenue.
● Zero Hunger & Good Health and Well Being
Oyster mushrooms have a high level of nutrition. They are low-calorie but contain 50% protein (% dry weight), and are rich in minerals and vitamins. They are normally used to substitute meat in vegetarian dishes.
● Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy & Climate Action
It takes about 1,000 times more water to produce and import beef than mushrooms. Furthermore, the production of mushrooms is simple. Coffee waste is mixed with a spore syringe and kept in a plastic bag in a room with controlled moisture and temperature. In the future, ZuiderZwam plans to use solar cells to produce electricity, so it is yet another step towards clean energy.
● Responsible Consumption and Production
ZuiderZwam oyster mushrooms are produced in Tilburg. It uses coffee waste from local cafes/restaurants and Tilburg municipality and is grown with the help of homeless people. Evidently, it is a responsible company that commits to the well-being of the local society.
● Partnership for the Goals
In the Netherlands and Belgium, there are other companies like ZuiderZwam. What makes ZuiderZwam different from other traditional oyster mushroom companies is that “we work together as a team,” said Jacqueline. Even though in Tilburg, ZuiderZwam is the only oyster mushroom producer, there are several (around ten) different oyster mushroom growers in the Netherlands. They are independent, but not competitors; they meet up and cooperate with one another from time to time. Furthermore, ZuiderZwam collects coffee waste from Tilburg municipality and in return sells the oyster mushroom bitterballen to them. Collaboration with big and stable partners will keep the company sustainable in the long run.
Nattanit Panitnantanakul, student
Tabrez Khan, student
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Tilburg, North Brabant, NL
Business Website: https://www.zuiderzwam.nl
Year Founded: 2016
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
Do you drink coffee? What do you do with the coffee waste? We believe that most people just throw it away. However, not many people know that coffee waste contains a great deal of nutrition that can be used to produce oyster mushrooms. By growing oyster mushrooms with coffee waste, ZuiderZwam contributes to a better food cycle, local employment and the environment.