The first surplus food shelf in the Netherlands opened in March 2018 at George Verberne’s Jumbo supermarket in Wageningen. This store shelf features products made from ingredients which would otherwise have been wasted. As part of REFRESH, Wageningen University & Research is using this living lab for research into the consumer acceptance of such surplus products.

The shelf will feature all kinds of products made from other commodities that would otherwise have been discarded, fermented or processed into animal feed: e.g. soup made from misshaped vegetables, beer from stale bread or soap from orange peels. Jumbo Verberne and the entrepreneurs from the Verspilling is Verrukkelijk (‘Food Waste is Precious’) platform are part of a long-term campaign aimed at encouraging consumers to waste less food. The shelf was officially inaugurated in the presence of Louise Fresco, chair of the Wageningen University & Research executive board and ambassador for Global Champion 12.3, and Geert van Rumund, the mayor of Wageningen.

Testbed for research

“Over the coming six months, the Verspilling is Verrukkelijk shelf will serve as a testing ground,” explains Toine Timmermans, programme manager for sustainable food chains at Wageningen Food & Biobased Research and initiator of the Dutch REFRESH national platform, called the "Circular Economy in Food task force". “This real-life setting will enable REFRESH scientists to examine which approach has the best effect, which types of products and packaging are attractive to consumers, which kinds of consumers opt for surplus products, what the ideal pricing level is, and how to present products in the best possible way. 

Joining forces against food waste
The shelf is a partnership between Jumbo Verberne, 18 businesses in the Verspilling is Verrukkelijk platform, MVO Netherland, Wageningen University & Research, and the municipality of Wageningen. The businesses involved are Kromkommer, Instock, Potverdorie!, GRO, BeeBlue, Soupalicious, ThijsTea, De Verspillingsfabriek, Coco Conserven, Betuwse Krenkelaar, Yespers, De Lekkere Man, The Ketchup Project, De Tweede Jeugd, De Bokkenbunker, Glorious Bastards, Twisted, and Cheesetrade. The initiative is linked to the national programme ‘United against Food Waste’ which was launched by the Circular Economy in Food task force on 19 March.