Food Waste No More – Interview at Instock The Hague.

I have always had a passion for good food, and discovering new places to eat in The Hague. In that sense, I am always looking for the new local hotspots to have my coffee breaks after a day of hard work or/and treat myself with a delightful meal.
If you are you looking for a nice, cosy place to grab a bite in the middle of the city, then Instock The Hague might be worth the visit! Here you can enjoy every bite of your plate with a lovely overlook on the Hofvijver, while consuming sustainable treats. W
in-Win situation!

Currently, there are three local restaurants in Amsterdam, Utrecht, and The Hague.
I decided to visit Instock The Hague to find out more about the in’s and out’s of the restaurant and its concept of sustainability in terms of food production and consumption. I was welcomed with open arms, and had the opportunity to interview one of the team members of the Instock family.

Hi! Could you introduce yourself, and tell us why you chose to work for Instock?

Nina: Hi! My name is Nina Graaff, and I am working as the restaurant manager of Instock in the Hague. The reason that I chose to work at Instock is particularly based on my personal belief that no food should go to waste. When I discovered the online open vacancy for the position of restaurant manager, I decided to do more research behind the sustainable values of the company. I discovered that my personal values match with the company’s values. At home, I am very conscious about food waste. However I did discover that working for Instock is not for everyone. It surprises me that still some of my friends throw away their food left-overs. This is weird for me, as I was brought up at home to not waste any food.

So, you are the Restaurant Manager of Instock. Could you tell us about your position and your responsibilities within the company?

Nina: In terms of responsibilities, my main job is to make sure that everything in the Hague goes well in terms of management. At Instock, we work with a big and integrative team. Currently there are above 100 people employed in our three restaurants. We want to stay connected to the other team members and therefore I see the managers of the other restaurants on a weekly basis. During these weekly meetings we discuss how we can improve things. How can we create more awareness about food waste?  How can we reach more people with Instock? In what way can we make our concept even more sustainable?
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It seems like there is good collaboration and communication at Instock! And, what about the promotion of Instock? How do you actively spread awareness about sustainable food consumption and production?

Nina: We believe that awareness about food waste should be raised in a positive, useful and fun way. The Community team, that is responsible for the promotion of Instock, shares tips and tricks on our website about how to reduce food waste at home. This includes yummy recipes and other interesting stories. They fill our social media pages with images of the delicious dishes that our chefs create and share updates about Instock and our mission. We also receive many visits from curious and enthusiastic people coming from different areas of expertise, who want to write about us in their blog or on their website, because they support our moral values. Thus, I soon realized that in terms of publicity, there’s a lot more to it than it seems.

So, does the promotion of Instock happen mostly online or are you also active with face-to-face promotion?

Nina: We are active on social media, such as Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. We have our own website, where we promote upcoming events and blogs. So, we have enough online platforms to promote ourselves and spread the Instock message! However, we are also present at various (food) events with our Instock food truck. This is easy in terms of promotion, because you always have your promotion with you. During these events, we literally serve the food that we rescued that day on the spot. Personally, I also visit other sustainable events in the Hague. So, for example, if there is an event organized by the municipality of the Hague, I am physically present as the ambassador of Instock The Hague.

It sounds like Instock is actively promoting itself with its own message! How would you describe the main message and goal of Instock in two sentences? What makes Instock unique?

Nina: Our mission is to reduce food waste and create awareness of the issue. We take on this challenge quite literally by making delicious meals with products that would otherwise remain unsold.

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On your website it says that you get unsold products (e.g. fruit and vegetables with an ‘aesthetical error’) from local Albert Heijn’s and other producers. Could you elaborate on the other food producers?

Nina: Yes indeed, we receive a lot of products of the local Abert Heijns that cannot be sold and would have otherwise been thrown away. Another producer could be a local farmer who has a lot of carrots because he had to harvest them, but in the meanwhile could not sell all of them. Also, we have collaborated with Kromkommer, that has gifted several types of vegetables with an ‘aesthetical error’ to Instock.

So, does the majority of your products come from local farmers and smaller companies?  

Nina: No, our products originate mainly from Albert Heijn, and we focus on strengthening this good relationship. At this moment, one of our colleagues is just on her way to pick up some products with our carrier cycle (‘bakfiets’ for the Dutchies). This happens on a daily basis.
Being offered today: crates filled with biological Liefde & Passie bread and various types of cheese. It sometimes does happen that we get some products from other producers and local farmers, but we do not get our main stock from them. Yet, we are always in for new collaborations with local initiatives!

Are the products that you receive from Albert Heijn mainly organic?

Nina: Well, because there is a lot of bread left-over and a lot of different types of bread we have chosen for Liefde&Passie Brood. However, at the same time, we want to keep contributing to our mission: reduce food waste. So, if in this case a product is not necessarily organic, we are fine with that as long as no food goes to waste. But, when we need to buy-in products, which is around 10-20 % of our products, we always choose organic food if possible.

What is your target audience within Instock?

Nina: Well, we have a very broad target audience! The visitors of Instock varies: We have young people visiting that are living a very conscious lifestyle and want to improve the world by having a positive impact on the environment. However, on the other hand, families stop by that want to give a good example to their children. Also, elderly people who have never thrown away any food in their lifes, and some that have experienced a war. So, as these examples show, Instock has a broad and varied target audience… Oh, I have forgotten to mention the most important target group: people who really do not have any idea of the issue of food waste. Our aim is to especially create awareness among them!

Is Instock popular among students and younger adults? On a daily basis, what is the most common age group of your customers?

Nina: Yes, definitely! Many youngsters and students drop by, and are also members of Duko, a discount card for which they receive special discounts at sustainable shops and restaurants in various cities. This includes Instock. So, Duko attracts a lot of students. What you also see at Instock, namely in Amsterdam, are student sororities and study associations that want to organize an event in our restaurant. We have a separate room available for these events, making it an ideal place for drinks and personal gatherings.

I also heard that Instock started to brew its own beer! Could you tell us more about this?

Nina: Yes, true! We have two self-brewed beers: de Pieper Bier en de Bammetjes Bier. These are examples of Instock products that are also very popular and appealing among students. These beers are made from saved potatoes and saved bread. We could call this sustainable drinking!

Nice! So maybe we can organize a LUGO borrel (‘special gathering with drinks’) at Instock in the near future…

Nina: Yes, definitely! Sounds like a nice idea!

Have you already heard about Instock? Or, are you new to this restaurant and its concept, and curious to try some delicious meals here? Either way, we have some good news…
LUGO will be giving away a sustainable price provided by Instock with the PhotoBooth Challenge during the the HOP introduction week in The Hague on August 21 and August 24.

Price?
A delicious three-course dinner for you and three friends at Instock- The Hague!

 

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Source Photography: Aleksandra Jovanovic