Eva Schouten

Moving towards a circular food system: The Terrace presents at the Erasmus Food Lab

On the 26th of November The Terrace consultants Eva Schouten and Luca Goossens visited the Erasmus Food Lab in Rotterdam to give a talk on circularity and specifically a circular food system.

About the Erasmus Food Lab
The Erasmus Food Lab aims to set an example of sustainable food culture, bringing consumers, researchers, cooks and food entrepreneurs, and professionals together. At the Food Lab you find everything needed to accelerate (local) food transition: information and guidance for sustainable strategies, an organic vegetable garden, a collection point for local produce from farmers in the area, a  great spacious kitchen and many, many dedicated students that want to drive positive change.

Getting serious about food
When the delicious vegan dishes were ready to be served, we facilitated a session about key strategies for closing the loop in our broken food system. Creating urgency for the matter isn’t hard with facts that speak for themselves:

  • Currently, the agrifood industry is responsible for almost a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions globally
  • 1/3rd of our food is currently wasted
  • 24 million slices of bread are tossed out each day in the U.K. alone
  • In cities, less than 2% of the valuable biological nutrients in food by-products and organic waste is composted or otherwise valorized
  • At current consumption levels, we will run out of known phosphorus reserves in around 80 years, which forms the basis of the fertilisers used widely in agriculture

The solution hierarchy
Luckily, there are serious opportunities out there for turning the tide around. After all, the world’s best dishes were made from food leftovers, Pot au feu is made of waste vegetables, bouillabaisse is the fish that’s damaged or bruised or unmarketable for the moment. However, we didn’t come to talk about recipes – we are sustainability consultants not chefs. We presented the best ways to turn food waste into value based on the EPA Food Recovery Hierarchy and ages old circular farming methods like using manure as a fertilizer, functioning as phosphorous too. Food waste can for instance be used as animal feed, an initiative already widely applied in Japan, the feed is known to be rich in lactobacillus bacteria, which eliminates the need for antibiotics, and farmers save 50 percent of the cost of regular feed.

For the circular economy local communities are key
Cities across the world have a unique opportunity to spark a transformation towards a circular economy for food, given that 80% of all food is expected to be consumed in cities by 2050, as stated Ellen McArthur in their Cities and Circular Economy for Food report. Cities can, in connection with local farmers, spark the transition towards a circular economy. Creating a circular economy requires an industrial-scale response, but this can be complemented by a community-based response and associated physical infrastructure, such as maker-spaces, labs, community technology workshops and any other community-based forms, more about this in this insightful blog.  We left the event hopeful as the energy and amount of initiatives already initiated at the Erasmus Food Lab clearly show that they are well on their way to become such an accelerator for circularity. We hope to have provided them with some inspiration to take along on their journey!


Co-creation session for a sustainable pension fund, BrightPensioen

Last May 24th, during the Bright Future event of PrightPensioen, we facilitated a co-creation session for Bright's members. We brainstormed on creative interpretations for the future of this sustainable pension fund. With a lot of post-its and an interactive app, the most innovative ideas came about. The results tasted like more co-creation!

Co-creation for sustainable business

The aim of the brainstorming session was to think together about the question: "How can Bright accelerate its member growth in to be able to pay out its members as quickly as possible?" The majority of the attendees were convinced that Bright could reach its ten thousand membership goal by the end of 2019. But... how?

The sky is the limit

In the first brainstorm round 'the sky is the limit' we invited the participants to think big, to dream. They had to imagine that they had all means at their disposal, from infinite money to the latest technologies. Fantastic and creative ideas came up. For example, one group suggested that all new members should be taken to a tropical island as a reward for their memberships. Another great idea was building an escape room where one can only get out when one has discovered which is the best pension fund to become a member at.

Back to earth

Inspired by these creative but not always realistic ideas, it was time to land some thoughts. Two 'sky is the limit' ideas could be chosen for the next round 'Back on Earth'. How can these ideas be realised with a 'normal' amount of resources? The projects and initiatives became more and more concrete. Members that had the idea of starting to give local workshops to attract new members. Opening a child pension account. Teaching lessons about pension funds at schools. Reward members with shares when they attract a new member.

Way forward

There are three main themes that Bright decided to further develop as a result of our session:

  • Member get member: "How can we reward our existing participants for their ambassadorship? After all, we prefer to spend our marketing budget on our existing participants."
  • "How do we attract more self-employed to get a pension? And especially: how do we influence procrastination?"
  • Bright customer portal. "We would like to make our member portal better, more beautiful and more customer-friendly."

Now the remaining question is: how would you tackle these challenges?


Scoping Mission of the Colombian Coal Sector, report for the Dutch Parliament

Responsible coal mining has become a major topic on the Dutch political agenda. For at least the next 15 years, coal will continue to be an important contributor to the country’s energy mix. Hence, the Dutch government is keen to support and strengthen responsible practices in the coal supply chain, in particular in the main sourcing country, Colombia.

At the request of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Colombia, The Terrace and BSD Consulting were selected to do a “Scoping Mission of the Colombian Coal Sector”. The objective was to understand the situation on the ground in the coal mining regions of Cesar and La Guajira, where the operation of large-scale and open pit coal mining destined for export is concentrated, and to define the outline of a possible contribution of the Netherlands.

Our team travelled to Colombia to visit the mining regions and to speak to all relevant stakeholder groups (Colombian government, mining companies, labour unions, local communities, NGOs etc.). Over 50 interviews were undertaken to ensure that the defined proposal for a Dutch contribution is adjusted to Colombian reality and to local stakeholders’ needs. Many concerns were expressed regarding a large variety of social and environmental issues, influenced by a difficult political context with 50 years of internal conflict.

The Scoping Mission has concluded a contribution by the Dutch government to take on the social, environmental and labour challenges in the coal mining areas is feasible and desirable. This should be done in close cooperation with relevant Colombian stakeholders. The Scoping Mission recommends a contribution based in four possible work streams:

a. Mediation of a dialogue to solve conflicts between stakeholders;

b. Through continuous dialogue, encourage the Colombian government to be more proactive in addressing social and environmental challenges in the coal areas;

c. Support reliable and independent data collection of environmental and social impacts caused by local industrial development;

d. Support thematic projects that address pressing challenges in the mining region (e.g. to improve water management).

The final report has been sent to Dutch Parliament by Minister Ploumen (Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation), in preparation of the Minister’s visit to Colombia in late November. The report “Scoping Mission: Understanding the Context of the Colombian Coal Sector” can be downloaded here.


Brand Purpose Model: what is the most beautiful thing you can do with your brand?

As a marketer your goal is to win fans and keep them. You do that by making a difference. And by showing what moves you. What you stand for. But what is the best way to get to the core of your brand?

Brand positioning models

Brand positioning models come in many different forms, from the brand diamond, the brand propeller, to the brand sun, etc. All magnificent one-page models that try to cover the essence of a brand. The truth about the brand, meant to be brief and guide colleagues and external contacts. Most are inspired by the brand key: the model developed by the Unilever Marketing Academy to consistently manage their brands internationally. Just one A4, containing all important information in nine clear bullet points. As a marketing strategist I see them in many shapes and forms: from boring Word documents to inspiring works of art. Accurately defining your brand is no easy task. It requires many decisions. Those decisions together define the strength of the brand.

Marketers and brand managers recognize the need for choosing a cutting edge position in the market. Who is the brand, for which target group are you always the best choice, and of course a razor sharp consumer insight. We can’t live without it.

Stand for something as a brand

If you ask me, the brand key is hopelessly worn out. In times like these, where what used to be rattles, we need the courage to let go of the old and embrace the new. The brand key is not sufficient anymore because it doesn’t take into account the world around the brand. Both the internal organization as well as the external stakeholders need to receive adequate attention. Next to the functional and emotional advantages consumers increasingly expect “like-mindedness”. Choosing for a brand that shares their values. A brand that doesn’t just stand for something, but also cares about something! And I’m not talking about a briefing that was sent to the advertising agency ordering to “come up with an authentic campaign”.

I believe that brands should decide on how they can improve and enrich people’s lives. How they can expose and contribute to social issues. Current position models fall short in addressing this.

We need an inspirational model that helps marketers to proudly carry their profession and helps companies to create true value. Brands have the power to encourage people to make better, healthier and more sustainable choices every day. Brands can help to redefine our vision on quality of life. Brands can guide us, by hitting the sustainable route. Brands can enthusiasm people for this route. They can trigger positive change in the behavior of people.

The Terrace’s ‘Brand Purpose Model’

As a warm-up we start with the question: “what is the most beautiful thing you can do with your brand?” Bam! It provides food for thought and breaks with the laws of conventional marketing mechanisms. This is your chance to think something about something, to be opinioned. Stand for something. And that is exactly what customers expect from you. That’s how you create preference.

The “Brand Purpose Model” by The Terrace offers companies a holistic view on their business to sharply define the purpose. In that process the marketer doesn’t just need his or her own team, but also colleagues from PR/PA, Sales & CSR are needed. Of course having the general director at the table is highly desirable. Without connecting these different disciplines, no shared “purpose” will arise in the organization. Any social activity will just be a little something on the side. Your customers will see right through it.

How it works

We work from the outside-in. Based on insights and needs from different angles we determine the business value and the social impact that fits the brand. The target group and competitors follow next.

Of course you have to know who you’re up against in the market. However, successful brands create a cooperative environment. Take for example cooperation in the supply chain; for marketers, the transition from a linear to a circular economy means that your products will come from two sides, from you and to you. That’s not something a company can manage on its own. Cooperation is crucially important. This includes your target group, who has become more conscious and can arrange more things themselves. Granting others something is the key.

Everyone knows it, character can’t be copied. Why do so few brands of today show what they really stand for? A strong brand purpose provides focus for successful collaboration and innovation.

What does your brand stand for?

Leontine Gast