Surplus food/waste management
The REO Auction is an important pioneer in the fight against food waste in Europe. In 2017, the REO Auction won the very first Food Waste Award, awarded by FSE Networks in collaboration with OVAM and Komosie. Every year, the REO Auction sells about 250,000 tonnes of home-grown fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables. When the REO Auction has to deal with food waste, it seeks to find solutions to provide a useful home for these products. In the first instance, surplus food goes to the food banks in West Flanders, East Flanders, Hainaut and Namur. As a result, 500,000 kg of fresh fruit and vegetables, or an average of 1 articulated lorry trailer per week, is sent to underprivileged people every year. In addition, surplus waste is also reused to feed animals. By the way, the REO Auction is the only Flemish vegetable auction which is FCA-certified to reuse its products as animal fodder. Not only dairy cows from the same region, but also animals in Bellwaerde (animal and amusement park) are fed with REO products.
The social enterprise enVie now allows the Belgian people to enjoy delicious soups full of commitment: each bottle of soup is made in Brussels from surpluses of fresh Belgian vegetables, by a motivated team of employees who, due to the project, have reintegrated into the labour market after a long period of unemployment. The REO Veiling supplies the surpluses of fresh vegetables to enVie. These are mainly vegetables that are very suitable for making soup (courgette, leek, celery, tomato, etc.) "As a grower's cooperative, we believe in the absolute added value of cooperation to tackle issues such as sustainability and food waste. By working together with the various partners in a targeted way, we can still valorise surplus fruit and vegetables, which means added value for us as a producer, the social enterprise and ultimately also the consumer", says Dominiek Keersebilck, commercial director of the REO Veiling. "EnVie creates an extra sales channel for the REO Veiling in its fight against food waste.
The REO Auction has a vacuum cooler. A vacuum is created in the vacuum box. As a result, the water evaporates at the ambient temperature. Together with the water, heat is extracted from the lettuce, as a result of which it is quickly refrigerated and the product can be kept for much longer. This means that the lettuce can remain longer on store shelves or can be transported using lorries to remote destinations such as Spain and Italy.
The REO Auction encourages the use of multi-use packaging for its products. The packaging comes in virtually all colours, sizes and materials, based on the customer’s preferences.