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One third of the food in our world is wasted. Our mission is to reduce food waste and create awareness of the issue. We take on this challenge quite literally by using products that would otherwise remain unsold. Moreover, we believe that awareness should be raised in a positive and fun way. Food is all about enjoyment after all! We have noticed that we’ve gotten more out of touch with the food we eat in the last decades. With all the facilities that the present-day has to offer, we don’t need to put much effort into our meals anymore. There’s enough food and plenty of choice. Our goal is to make people value food more in several ways: through a good dining experience in one of our restaurants, via our masterclasses, and by selling products like our cook books Instock Cooking and Circular Chefs and our craft beers Pieper Bier and Bammetjes Bier.
According to a study by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), about thirty percent of all our food is wasted. That comes down to a worldwide wastage of 1.3 billion tons of food a year. The Dutch consumer throws away around 47 kilos of food on an annual basis, which translates into an amount of 2.5 billion euros. However, food waste is not just about the loss of money; in the process of packaging, transporting, cooling and preparing the food, a great deal of effort is spoiled as well. The wastage affects everyone, from farmer to consumer. It is for this reason that food waste is an issue within the entire food chain. We believe that the best way to deal with the problem is to join forces with all the involved parties, and combine that with a creative entrepreneurial mindset.
When you eat at Instock, it is hard to imagine the process that preceded for the food to end up on your plate. Our food rescue drivers get up early every day to rescue foodstuff. In our restaurants, the aim is to create meals that consist for at least 80% to 100% out of surplus food. We obtain most of our products from several Albert Heijn supermarkets, which our food rescue drivers pick up at the return-freight center in Zaandam. These products are never expired though! On the contrary: they meet every food safety guideline, but can simply not be sold anymore for various reasons. We get hold of nearly expired cheese and eggs and one-day-old bread by picking it up by bike at a few local Albert Heijn stores. The meat we cook with comes from the distribution center of the Albert Heijn; they occasionally have an amount of products in stock that are either surplus or are approaching their expiration date. The fish we use is acquired at the producer at packager. They sometimes have an excess of food for several reasons. Heineken supplies us with beers that are soon to be expired, while our bottles of wine are often residual quantities that are too scarce to fill up the shelves in the Albert Heijn. Tony’s Chocolonely, our former neighbor at the Westergasterrein area, makes us happy with leftover samples and batches from collections such as their Valentine’s Day edition. Lastly, we also save products that are not expired, but simply damaged during the pick-ordering process. These products, among which are sodas and dried pastas, only have a flawed packaging. All of our sources are without a doubt a big help in the process of creating surprising and delicious meals! Several products, like olive oil, butter and dairy products, are purchased new to finish off our dishes.
You can find the menus of our restaurants at: instock.nl/en/menu
All the food you eat at Instock is perfectly fine. We would never sell food that has passed its expiration date. Besides, the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority has prohibited that. We have to meet the same requirements as any other restaurant. Yet, there is a difference between food waste that is either unavoidable or avoidable. The former kind consists out of food that cannot be consumed anymore according to the food safety guidelines, like perished meat products. Avoidable waste includes all the foodstuff that’s still fit for consumption, but is thrown away anyway. As you might guess, we only cook with products that belong to the last category! How about that one-day-old bread, that bundle of oranges that carries one rotten but seven fresh ones, those slightly discolored cauliflowers, or that meat that is too close to its expiration date to end up in the supermarket? We believe these products deserve another chance.
No, it’s actually the other way around. We strongly encourage the action of sending food to the food banks: the less waste, the better! The Albert Heijn has been donating products to the food bank for years now. Unfortunately, there’s more wastage than the Dutch Voedselbank can process. This means that new ideas have to be developed in order to maximize the efficiency of the food bank! Instock has tight bonds with the Voedselbank; by introducing them to potential suppliers and making them familiar with logistical pick-up processes, we hope they can boost their good work even more. Moreover, we give our guests the option to donate €12,50 to the food bank. We double this amount and give it to the Voedselbank coordinator, in the form of an Instock gift card. The coordinator makes sure the voucher goes to people who can really use a night of indulgence. This process is completely anonymous, as we use the same gift cards for all of our guests. We do not want to pretend like donating food is the only way to reduce food waste. Something needs to change structurally. Our goal is to make people aware of our food system: everybody plays a role in the wastage of foodstuff. We believe that with our restaurant, we’ve found a positive way to involve people in the challenge against it.
Sometimes we do, but normally we don’t. This means that we have less purchasing costs than most other restaurants. Even though it seems like a very favorable business model, we do have different expenses. The costs for our staff and transport are a lot higher at Instock than at most other eating establishments. It simply takes up a lot of time to pick up the food and sort it, to create new menus every day, and to talk over all the details. This basically means that we do not have a benefit compared to other restaurants.
Instock is an independent foundation that works together with Albert Heijn. The latter party supports Instock by paying the salary of the founders of Instock (Bart, Selma and Freke). Moreover, they help with investments for new initiatives and they donate their unsold food that would have been wasted otherwise.
We would like to focus ourselves more on using residual products. Our restaurants are a way to do this, but we’ve set a bigger goal. We hope to pursue other enterprises in the food service industry to use the products that Instock picks up as well – we’re well willing to facilitate it!
We are advising several companies – Albert Heijn especially – how to prevent food waste, and how to process unavoidable food waste as good as possible. There are enough high-quality destinations for wastage around. Using the potential of these waste flows to the best of everyone’s ability should be the norm.
In addition, we continue to spread awareness about the issue of food waste by organizing presentations, masterclasses and educational projects; publishing our cook book; and generating attention from the media. Lastly, let’s not forget our Pieper Bier, Bammetjes Bier and Granola. Those are just the first examples of unique products that derived from waste flow. We’ll continue to look for more of these products!