Globally, about 10-20% of fruits and vegetables are thrown away because of unconventional physical appearance (FAO, 2011). Three Dutch college students found this system completely wasteful and decided to take a stand with wonky fruit and veggies, as oddly shaped food is just as tasteful as its normal looking version. In the European Union (EU), this phenomenon began after weak legislation failed to rectify the matter against wonky fruit and vegetables. Kromkommer is now a sustainable business in the Netherlands leading food markets to more resourceful ways of marketing by including more funky shaped food and eliminating the stigma associated with imperfect fruits and vegetables.
Loyola University Chicago
Started in 2012 by three young college students, Jente, Lisanne, and Chantal sought to find ways to cut down on food waste. They created an EU campaign for wonky fruits and vegetables. Interest from the community helped the students fuel their campaign. With a crowd-funded business, Kromkommer (a Dutch wordplay on the words cucumber and crooked) was born. The business is guided by four pillars to create a better food chain: (1) a new definition of quality, (2) a fair price for everyone in the chain, (3) know who you eat from, and (4) with each other. Kromkommer makes soup from the wonky veggies, promotes education through crooked fruit and veggie plush toys for children, and is actively engaged in raising awareness and changing policy.
Cutting down on food waste helps alleviate the issue of hunger across the globe since more food is used instead of discarded. The United States (US) alone could feed the world’s hungry with all its food waste. According to United States Department of Agriculture (n.d.) the US has approximately “31% food loss at the retail and consumer levels, (which) corresponded to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010.” In the Netherlands, Kromkommer is helping its country achieve Sustainable Development Goal 12 which sets goals for countries to halve food waste and reduce food loss. Kromkommer has helped prevent thousands of pounds of food loss!
Realizing the extreme situation of food waste, the founders felt obligated to make a difference. Since launching, they have participated in events for wonky food, have opened their first wonky fruit and vegetable store, and have become more focused on the power of politics and trade to combat food waste. Kromkommer would like to appeal to Dutch citizens with their innovative marketing and become a leader in neighboring countries.
The motive of normalizing oddly shaped vegetables helps educate the public on something that affects everyone’s daily life. Many do not realize there is nothing wrong with the so-called wonky veggies and that we should not judge by shape or size! Children will also be educated with the oddly shaped veggie and fruit toys, creating a more enlightened generation. Not only is Kromkommer helping its country, but the company is also saving the environment as well. Using more produce cuts down on waste, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions, saves money, and helps local farmers become more sustainable (which contributes to Sustainable Development Goal 2 focused on sustainable agriculture). The country can increase sustainability and resilience once more individuals and food markets adopt this change and accept wonky produce, thus contributing to Sustainable Development Goal 11 for sustainable cities.
Kromkommer has raised capital through crowdfunding and innovative marketing campaigns. As a result, the company has grown from producing 3 soups to now producing 9 soups sold in over 150 stores and restaurants and offering a child’s wonky fruit and vegetable playset. The company is growing revenue and market share while creating a unique image and reputation through its campaigns.
Kromkommer is building a community of farmers, growers, stores, retailers, and fans, the company’s "Krommunity." Working together, they are raising awareness, providing knowledge and education, building community, helping people reconnect with food sources, and providing more food to consumers. The environmental benefits are clear. By avoiding food waste, more edible products are used, less food is wasted, and more greenhouse gas emissions are avoided.
Laurien Adriaanse, Supply Chain Manager
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Business Website: https://www.kromkommer.com/english/
Year Founded: 2012
Number of Employees: 11 to 50
Kromkommer believes in a food chain that makes enough, healthy, tasty, honest and sustainable food for everyone in which they work together with transparency, respect, and trust for each other and the world. Using imperfect vegetables, they rescue food before it is discarded and turn it into delicious nutritious soups. They have formulated four pillars that we believe are part of that better food chain.