Seven Dutch food influencers you need to know

The Food100 list honors Dutch food visionaries

In a nation of food influencers, some visionaries rise to the top. Food100 celebrates innovation with its list of 100 leaders who are paving the path toward a sustainable future of food in the Netherlands and abroad.

“This tiny country feeds the world,” proclaimed National Geographic in its September 2017 cover story. Illustrated with stunning photos of sprawling greenhouses and high-tech hatching facilities, the magazine feature characterized the Netherlands as leading the way in farming innovation.

Indeed, the Netherlands punches above its weight when it comes to advancements in the fields of food and agriculture: particularly when it comes to measures of sustainability, yields, and the availability of fresh food. And it’s not only advancing how we grow what we eat, but also what we do with food once we have it: how do we get food to the people who need it most? How can we ensure the precious resources that went into growing and producing our meals don’t go to waste?

The 2018 Food100 list, released this week at the conclusion of Dutch Agri Food Week, highlights influential food figures in a country of pioneers. Among this year’s honorees are frontrunners tackling the pressing issue of food waste and giving consumers opportunities to make healthy, sustainable food choices.

From young talents to lifelong industry leaders, here are some of our favorites.

Big data helps reduce food waste

Thomas Luttikhold, Wastewatchers

“Food is not garbage to be thrown in the bin,” says Thomas Luttikhold. Working in the hospitality sector, the Wastewatchers founder saw staggering amounts of waste. The start-up’s software helps businesses chart data to monitor, analyze and ultimately reduce their food waste. By calculating waste, companies can make better business decisions. “You could say we’re actually researching consumer behavior more than just measuring food waste,” Luttikhold observes.

The juice bar that relies on rejects

Mineke Rezelman, Jacob’s Juice

“It might be a lemon that isn’t yellow enough. Or single bananas, because supermarkets think customers only buy bunches.” These types of foods typically get tossed. But in their Amsterdam juice bar, Jacob’s Juice, Mineke Rezelman and her brother squeeze market rejects into desirable drinks. “It’s a difficult concept because you don’t know what exactly is being wasted when,” says Rezelman. But Jacob’s Juice is forging ahead with a growing repertoire of juices, pickles, and soon soups to take on the challenge of local waste.

De Verspillingsfabriek makes mincemeat of food waste

Bob Hutten, De Verspillingsfabriek

As a caterer, Bob Hutten sees a lot of uneaten food: “Isn’t it weird that chefs spend all day preparing for a major event and end up throwing away two wheelie bins full of food?” His response? De Verspillingsfabriek (The Waste Factory), which makes soups and sauces from food that would otherwise be thrown away. The ‘factory’ not only rescues fruit and vegetables considered unsuitable for sale – it also functions as an incubator for new food initiatives taking on issues like waste.

Future-proof dining at Lowlands Festival

Lotte Wouters and Maartje Nelissen, The Food Line-Up

“Every dish has a surprise in terms of its ingredients and the story it tells about food issues,” says Maartje Nelissen, describing the menu at Brasserie 2050. At Lowlands this summer, festival-goers feasted on sustainable fare at this ‘future-proof’ pop-up restaurant. Catering outfit The Food Line-up, founded by Nelissen and Lotte Wouters, wants to influence the way we eat. Says Nelissen: “The awareness that food can be done in a different way – that we all have a responsibility for a more sustainable future – that can make a huge impact.”

Citrus peel joins the circular economy

Sytze van Stempvoort, PeelPioneers

Rising demand for fresh juice means more citrus rinds are being discarded, incinerated or fermented. PeelPioneers takes a more circular approach. Co-founder Sytze van Stempvoort, who studied chemistry and wrote his thesis about extracting raw materials from citrus peel, explains: “In the Netherlands alone, 250 million kilos of citrus peel, mainly from oranges, is thrown away each year. We extract the ethereal oils and pulp from the peel. The oils are used as an ingredient in cosmetics and cleaning agents and to flavor foods. The pulp is used in animal feed.”

A subscription to healthy food

Jack Stroeken, Ekomenu

“It takes the hassle out of healthy cooking,” says Ekomenu founder Jack Stroeken. “No need to find recipes or look for ingredients in the supermarket. And you get exactly the amounts you need, so there’s no waste.” Ekomenu’s recipe box subscriptions deliver organic food, catered to individual’s health needs and dietary preferences. “Our mission will be accomplished when healthy food is generally recognized as an alternative to medicine in fighting lifestyle-related illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure,” says Stroeken.

Fighting supermarket waste with an app

August de Vocht, NoFoodWasted

“What makes you decide to buy a product that would otherwise be thrown away?” asks August de Vocht of NoFoodWasted. Their ‘Afgeprijsed’ (Reduced Price) app lets shoppers know in advance about discounted food nearing its sell-by date. “The trigger for the consumer is the financial benefit, but in the end I hope to change behaviors,” says De Vocht. Some 150 Dutch supermarket branches list their reduced priced goods, and are throwing away 18 to 25 percent fewer products.