A cooperative is created to sell fruits and vegetables that nobody wants
The On.perfekt cooperative, which participates to the Circular by Design Challenge, will implement its basic project at the beginning of September 2022: opening a permanent shop to sell fruit and vegetables that do not necessarily correspond to the standards found in traditional shops.
On 9 September, the Nordstrooss Shopping Mile in Marnach in the north of the country will have an additional shop: a grocery shop run by the On.perfekt cooperative. Its focus is on decreasing food waste by favouring the recovery and sale of “non-standard” local fruit and vegetables (too big, too small, too ugly or having reached or exceeded the minimum durability date, etc.) generally rejected by traditional distribution channels.
It is estimated that 40% of these products are directly rejected by producers who know that they will not be able to sell them to the shops. And that when they reach the shops, 5% are still thrown away.
“Opening this shop was always our primary goal when we launched the cooperative in 2021,” explains Estelle Flammang, business development manager and board member of On.perfekt, “We started our activities with pop-ups, which allowed us to test the reaction of consumers and their interest in this type of product. It is essential that customers can see them in real.”
The project was made possible by a crowdfunding campaign launched earlier this year, which raised the necessary funds and built a community of some 200 members (the next subscriptions will be open next season).
More than 600 boxes of fruit and vegetables were sold online in the space of two and a half months, with customers being able to have them delivered to their homes or come and collect them from Hosingen or from the Ouni shops in Dudelange and Luxembourg.
The small premises of 26 m2 in Marnach, which facilitates stock management for the On.perfekt teams, is initially planned to be open three days a week (Monday, Thursday and Friday).
Lessons from the Circular by Design Challenge
At the same time, On.perfekt took part in 2021 in the first Circular by Design Challenge and was one of the winners, with another project called Babyfood: the production of baby food based on these non-standard vegetables. “Participating in the Challenge was a great experience for us, because we were able to access expertise and knowledge that we would otherwise never have had,” says Ms Flammang. “We learned a lot that is also useful for other aspects of the Babyfood project. We also enriched our network of contacts and found a partner for the production of the baby food.”
As this partner is currently in the midst of restructuring its facilities, the project was postponed, which also allowed the On.perfekt team to fully focus on the opening of the shop. “This is also one of the lessons we learned from the Circular by Design Challenge: to take our time and deal with one project after another.”
The experience of the 12 weeks of coaching also allowed a small structure such as On.perfekt to expand its opportunities and contacts for financing. “At the beginning, our participation in the Challenge was very spontaneous. There were two of us, we had an idea, but we hadn’t really developed the concept. We were told that it was good, but we had not gathered any members. It’s important for any entrepreneur to have this kind of support to develop their idea and exploit its full potential.”