EIT Food transforms surplus vegetables into soups for social grocery stores and food aid

EIT Food transforms surplus vegetables into soups for social grocery stores and food aid

Transforming surplus vegetables into soup

EIT Food, together with four partners enVie, Rikolto, RIMO and Riso launch a new soup, with a great story: Robin Food. The soup is made from fresh surplus vegetables that the farmers, members of REO Veiling, find more difficult to sell due to the corona crisis. The vegetables are made into soup at the social enterprise enVie. The soup is then distributed to vulnerable families through food banks and social grocers. 

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Due to the economic shock caused by the COVID-19 crisis, we see a growing group of people who have too few resources to feed themselves and their families. As a result, food aid organizations and social grocery stores are seeing an increase in demand, while there is less surplus through supermarkets. This is also noticeable in other parts of the country.

Liesbeth Smeyers, Riso Vlaams-Brabant

Finding a way back from economic shock

The farmers are also facing difficulties having to deal with large volumes of surplus vegetables as a result of the crisis.

The loss of a significant part of our customers in Belgium and abroad, as well as an increasing volume of fresh fruits and vegetables at the start of the season, translate into a surplus of certain products. We are therefore very satisfied to participate in the Robin Food project.

Dominiek Keersebilck, director commercial at REO Veiling

The closure of the restaurant sector affects not only farmers, but also food processing companies like enVie. 

Producing soup with Robin Food gives us the opportunity to restart production in times of crisis and do what we do best: create tasty products with an environmental added value and provide work for people coming out of long-term unemployment.

Naomi Smith, General Manager at enVie

Accelerating the project

The realization of the Robin Food project, in record time, was made possible thanks to the investment of EIT Food.

The corona crisis forced us to cancel many activities. We want to invest these freed up resources in structural initiatives which also offer a solution to respond fast to the immediate needs of the most deprived.

Martine van Veelen, Director of EIT Food CLC West

Rikolto proposed this project as a member of EIT Food and managed to mobilise a partnership in a short time.

We were already working behind the scenes with Samenlevingsopbouw Riso Vlaams-Brabant and fruit and vegetable wholesalers to transform their surpluses into finished products for social grocery stores. With this investment, everything is accelerating.

Jo Vandorpe de Rikolto

Dépôt Margo, from Samenlevingsopbouw Rimo Limburg is also interested in the project to help struggling Limburgers to obtain healthy and affordable food.

We can't wait to offer the soup. What makes this project so valuable is the combination of social integration, poverty reduction, access to healthy food and the positive impact on the environment by saving food surpluses.

Karel Bollen of Margo Depot

Robin Food: long-term structural project

In the short term, 20 000 liters of soup will be sold under the Robin Food brand. But it does not stop there. Riso Vlaams-Brabant and Rikolto wish to introduce other products offering a solution to food surpluses in the coming months, while giving people in vulnerable situations access to healthy and sustainable food.

We will soon be able to offer Robin Food fruit juice to our social grocery store, as well as a spread for sandwiches or aperitifs through the packaging-free shop. We are delighted that with this project, we will be able to launch our new Robin Food label more quickly.

Xenia Langen of Samenlevingsopbouw Riso Vlaams-Brabant

The economic model of Robin Food must also be consolidated. 'We would like to offer the products in the 'classic' trade circuit, at a slightly higher price, and make it possible for people with less means to buy the products at a reduced price at the social grocery store,' concludes Jo Vandorpe of Rikolto.

Do you want to help us? Crowdfunding Robin Food

To be able to distribute 20 000 liters, the Robin Food partners hope to find additional funding. If you want to support the project, you can do so by buying the soup via the Robin Food crowdfunding page on the Gingo platform.

Soup for 5 000 families in need