In November 2022, Ekomenu won the Future Award for best communication of the year with its ‘Discover your Foodprint’ receipts showing personalised Vegetable, Water, CO2 and Vita scores. CEO Jack Stroeken is understandably proud of this achievement and, despite the recession, he sees a bright future for the provider of organic meal boxes in the Netherlands and Belgium. “We are a good fit with the sustainability, health and online trends. And our short supply chains enable us to keep price increases to a minimum.”
Vegetarian, vegan, seasonal, carbohydrate-conscious or gluten-free… these are just five of the 14 types of fresh, organic meal boxes offered by Ekomenu. After all, ‘healthy’ has a different meaning for everyone. “We believe that every person has the right to a healthy lifestyle and should be able to access a sustainable food system. We help our customers make the best choices for themselves, their families and the planet,” Stroeken says with infectious enthusiasm.
Strong growth during the pandemic
That message appears to be striking the right chord. The company currently employs 40 people and supplies around 500,000 meals a year, having made particularly strong progress in recent years. “The pandemic was a growth period for us. In the early days, people preferred to do their shopping online rather than going to stores and consumers became very health conscious. We capitalised on that by publishing a white paper about COVID-19 and creating a special pandemic menu. Earlier this year, we noticed that some customers put their meal box orders on hold because they were eating out more and going on vacation. But in the last quarter we’ve seen renewed growth, including from many new customers who are opting for organic, local, tasty and above all healthy food.”
The mission: food for health
Ekomenu is pushing the boundaries when it comes to promoting a healthy lifestyle, backed up by many years of research in the field of healthy eating, Stroeken explains. “We want to make ‘food for health’ accessible to everyone. In fact, Ekomenu is an official healthcare provider. We challenge our customers to start working on their personal goals: encouraging their children to eat healthily, finally losing some weight, leading a more sustainable lifestyle, recovering from a sport injury or an illness. Our delicious weekly menus are created by foodies, chefs and dieticians. The personal Vegetable and Vita scores provide insight into the impact of people’s eating habits.”
Jack Stroeken: “We help our customers make the best choices for themselves, their families and the planet”
Affordable thanks to locally sourced organic products
Needless to say, a healthy lifestyle needs to be affordable, especially now that customers have become even more price-aware against the backdrop of a looming recession and rising inflation. Stroeken explains how Ekomenu is responding to this. “Naturally, the economic crisis means we are adding fewer new customers compared to previous years. Nevertheless, I still feel positive. We have raised our prices by just 8%, which is around half of the price increase being implemented by supermarkets. This is possible because we maintain close ties with dozens of organic producers in the Netherlands and Belgium, which means we have a short supply chain. Moreover, one advantage of online recipes is that we can stay flexible on the ingredients. From our database of 3,000 recipes, we can consciously select menus that require seasonal products and are the best fit with current prices, without compromising on quality.”
Partnership with Rijk Zwaan
Rijk Zwaan’s mission of ‘Sharing a healthy future’ is seamlessly aligned with the Ekomenu mission. This creates lots of opportunities for collaboration based around new, organic products to create healthy, vegetable-rich recipes. “To avoid waste, we need small vegetables that are suitable for one, two or three-person households. We are also very keen on distinctive products, such as the striped aubergine and purple cauliflower in the Rijk Zwaan assortment,” comments Stroeken. A close partnership with Rijk Zwaan’s consumer platform called Love My Salad based on healthy, affordable recipes can also support both companies’ missions.
Towards a healthy future
Stroeken is optimistic about the future. “Organic is on the up, e-commerce is still growing rapidly and consumers care about sustainability and healthy eating. I am confident about the opportunities for Ekomenu, for organic crops and for a healthy future.”
Keen to know more?
Go to the www.ekomenu.com website. Both the company website and the recipe database are available in English, French and Dutch.