Want to predict the future of enterprise? Change your perspective! That is the advice of Bob Hutten, founder of The Waste Factory in Veghel. In the Netherlands, more than 5 billion euros worth of food is wasted each year, food that is still perfectly good for consumption. Determined to do something about that, Hutten started the Waste Factory in early 2016. “A billion people are starving. What we have is an enormous system error that can only be solved if we change how we do business.”
Bob Hutten has been running his company, Hutten EU since 1993 and currently employs 1800 people. From the very beginning, it has always been an attitude of genuine interest in social causes that sets the foundation for how he runs his business. “In everything I do, I ask myself whether it helps or contributes to society. It needs to mean something. I want my company to inspire, to contribute, and to help make our guests and others happy. And when you look at business from that perspective, it is obvious where things have gone wrong: companies looking to make as much money as possible. Luckily, I see more and more organizations doing business from the concept of ‘how can I use my business to do something that makes the world a better place?’”
Wasted Food and Wasted Talents
The Waste Factory is a perfect example of that kind of organization. Hutten says, “The problem of food waste is enormous, and it comes from not only consumers, but also producers, resellers, hotels, restaurants and supermarkets. It averages out to 150 euro per person, and that translates to 50 kilos per person per year. Approximately 14% of all the food we buy here in the Netherlands is thrown away. We wanted to do something about this waste on a large scale. The Waste Factory uses raw ingredients of negligible value (production scrap) to produce tasty products such as soups, sauces and ketchup. This production scrap can include, for instance, misshapen vegetables and mislabeled products.”
“We are also making another social statement with our Waste Factory. Working in the factory are mostly people who tend to have difficulty finding regular employment. For years, they have been denied an important right of a meaningful existence: being able to use your talents to make a difference, to feel that your life matters and that you are useful. We look beyond a disability to what that person is capable of and give that ‘wasted talent’ an opportunity to contribute by using their skills.”
Products made at the Waste Factory are being sold through an ever-increasing number of suppliers and retailers. The Jumbo supermarket chain currently sells the Jumbo cool-fresh ketchup under its own label, and hotels, restaurants and caterers can order the soups through wholesale suppliers Publicatie Duurzaam Bedrijfsleven – Sligro and Publicatie Duurzaam Bedrijfsleven – Deli XL.