DOEN Participaties and Brave New Food Investments (BNFI) announced on Monday that they have invested €450K in Amsterdam-based The Ketchup Project, a sustainable initiative that combats tomato waste and empowers local Kenyan farmers.
The Ketchup Project says it will use the funds to hire additional staff and invest in purchasing its own drying hubs.
Anne Janssens, co-founder of The Ketchup Project, says, “The partnership with Brave New Food Investments and DOEN Participaties comes at the right moment for us, as with their knowledge, expertise and network we will be able to scale quickly and make sustainable ketchup the new norm.”
What is The Ketchup Project?
More than 50% of Kenya’s fruit and vegetable yields are wasted due to unstable sales marketplaces. Together with Kenyan farmers, The Ketchup Project creates regional centres to dry tomatoes and mangoes to increase their shelf life by 1.5 years and enable the use of complete crops in order to decrease waste and post-harvest losses.
The Ketchup Project then pays a fair price for the dried fruit and turns it into ketchup, which is then packaged. A Michelin-starred chef created their signature flavour, and the complete product line only comprises a small number of organic, natural, and free refined sugars components. And because of the fair price the farmers receive for their products, they have more money to invest in better living conditions.
The Ketchup Project, founded by Anne Janssens and Birte Ketting, aims to promote sustainable manufacturing while simultaneously reducing food waste. About 110 farmers presently receive assistance from the company in learning about and implementing sustainable agricultural methods. The drying of tomatoes and mangoes is done by using solar energy and uses less energy than cooking tomatoes. To prevent soil depletion, The Ketchup Project educates farmers on regenerative farming methods.
Currently, the company offers three flavours of ketchup, developed by Michelin star chef Mohsine Korich: tomato ketchup, mango ketchup and smokey ketchup. They are for sale at (online) stores such as Picnic, Bidfood and Instock Market, can be tasted at various catering establishments in the Netherlands, and are also part of the HelloFresh meal boxes.
Impact investors help to scale the business
BNF Investments is directly linked to Brave New Food, a European platform for food innovation. Brave New Food connects a community of innovative startups and scale-ups with 35+ partners ranging from food corporations to investors and knowledge partners. With the support of the platform, BNFI connects companies with broader markets, networks and expertise while providing financing at scale.
Co-founder of BNFI, Vincent van Gorkom, says, “With the capital provided, The Ketchup Project will be able to continue expanding their tomato and mango drying capacities in Kenya. It will also drive brand growth and commercial expansion, all of which we are excited to be a part of. We are confident in their abilities to truly make a difference.”
DOEN Participaties has been investing in innovative, sustainable and social startups for more than 25 years. The firm aims to make the world greener and more social. That is why impact is central to all investments. DOEN Participaties invests in the early phase of companies. It is fully owned and managed by the DOEN Foundation.
The Foundation has been supporting The Ketchup Project since 2019. And now its social investment company, DOEN Participaties, is also on board.
Beau-Anne Chilla, investment manager of DOEN Participaties, says, “DOEN focuses on shorter and fairer chains to combat food waste. The Ketchup Project fits this ambition. They make the chain more sustainable in a concrete and visible way. In addition, they provide stable and significantly higher income for the small-scale Kenyan farmers, which visibly improves their living conditions.”