By: Adriaan van der Giessen 21 Mar, 2019

In April 2018, restaurant and catering entrepreneur Pepijn Rijks founded Food Union together with partners Thijs Bos and Pascal Labrie. They noticed that many food entrepreneurs want shared kitchen space. In the Haarlem and Rotterdam branches, food professionals work together under one roof. Marlot de Jonge is one of the Rotterdam-based food entrepreneur and talks about her company Freasy. Food Union not only offers kitchen space, but also serves as an inspiration space for trainings and workshops. Pepijn Rijks talks about the ambitious plans for the branch in the newly-renovated Groothandelsmarkt in Rotterdam and about the advantages that the location offers in terms of purchasing, sales and logistics.

Food Union keuken Rotterdam

From flexible kitchen space to inspiration and education

Food Union offers more than just a flexible kitchen space. “We want to be the most inspiring workplace for food professionals. On the one hand, we help start-ups to sell their product more effectively and to grow. On the other hand, we offer inspiration and experimentation space for the established food entrepreneur.” The first store, which opened in Haarlem in April 2018, had a shared kitchen area, members’ café and inspiration area. The second branch, located in the Groothandelsmarkt in Rotterdam, has been operational since December 2018. And the growth plans continue.

Food Union expands to 1500m2

In early 2020, the branch in Rotterdam will expand in the newly-renovated Groothandelsmarkt. Rijks talks about the plans: “We’ll have 1500m2 in this new location. In addition to the shared kitchen area, there will be separate kitchen areas for entrepreneurs who often require the same equipment. This way, they have access to their own kitchen and yet retain the cross-pollination with other food entrepreneurs. There will also be a demo kitchen where restaurants can experiment with new menus and give masterclasses. Finally, there will be a food lab for developing and testing products. At this new branch, we also want to pay attention to education. By collaborating with schools in the Rotterdam region, we can literally give students a glimpse into the kitchen.”

If you are looking for inspiration in the food sector and are curious about the opportunities that Food Union has to offer, please contact Pepijn Rijks.

Contact Pepijn Rijks

'On the one hand, we help start-ups to sell their product more effectively and to grow. On the other hand, we offer inspiration and experimentation space for the established food entrepreneur.'

Pepijn Rijks Founder Food Union

Freasy uses blast freezer for long-life meals

For start-up food entrepreneurs who have outgrown their own kitchen, the flexible kitchen space equipped with professional equipment offers a great solution. Currently, five food entrepreneurs use the kitchen space: Freasy, Burgs Foods, The Soup Corner, Wakeat, Umi Sushi and Sochelo. “Food Union is the ideal place to build my business without taking too much risk,” says Marlot de Jonge from Freasy. De Jonge could not find good options for a fresh ready meal and now makes fresh freezer meals. “With the right recipe, ingredients and cooking, it turns out that a freezer meal can be a very healthy and tasty end product that also has a long shelf life,” says de Jonge. De Jonge needs professional equipment such as a blast freezer to prepare the meals. “This freezer cools the meals very quickly. This prevents large ice crystals from entering the food, thus preserving its taste and texture,” explains de Jonge. “I carefully think up the recipes myself and it is also important to me to be eco-conscious. The meal containers are made from sugar cane and the fresh frozen meals are supplied throughout the Netherlands in reusable polystyrene boxes that can be returned free of charge.”

Food Union Freasy Marlot de Jonge shockvriezer

Groothandelsmarkt ideal location for purchasing, sales and logistics

Food Union chose the city of Rotterdam for its innovative character and diversity. “Rotterdam is a real breeding ground for culinary events and thanks to the different cultures, it is a diverse food city.” The Groothandelsmarkt proved to be the ideal location due to the huge advantages in terms of purchasing, sales and logistics. Both suppliers and consumers really are literally around the corner here. Here, you’re immersed in different cuisines, from European to Asian, and all sorts of fruit and vegetables are available. Food entrepreneurs can also use ripe products, such as vegetables and fruit that are no longer sellable. to prepare meals.” Logically, the Groothandelsmarkt also has advantages in terms of the proximity of the motorway, city and opportunities for joint transport.

Food Union Groothandelsmarkt

Increasing demand for local products

Food Union supports entrepreneurs who make a unique product by working together to create a strong brand for buyers such as supermarkets, wholesalers, distributors and investors. “There is an increasing demand for local and traditional products. Combined with transport that is faster, cheaper and more environmentally friendly, it is easier to sell unique products,” says Rijks.

Collaboration of chefs, marketers and online experts

At Food Union, collaboration between different food professionals is encouraged, as Rijks explains: “Chefs, marketers and online experts can purchase traditional products from each other, for example. It may be slightly more expensive than a product from a manufacturer, but this way you are helping others and you instantly have a unique product. You can also have a website made, print clothes and to design packaging materials.”

If you would also like to use kitchen space and work together with other food professionals, please contact Pepijn Rijks for more information.

Contact Pepijn Rijks