GRO oyster mushrooms: circular production and trade
Croquettes, Krupi chips and burgers: just some of GRO’s oyster mushroom-based products to make their way onto the shelves of Lidl (NL) during Lidl’s FutureGoods week. From September 2019 their fresh mushrooms will be on sale at Albert Heijn XL and Jumbo. According to director Jan Willem Bosman Jansen, this is just the beginning: he believes there is a great future for GRO’s oyster mushroom products, all of which are produced within a fully transparent, fully circular chain.
The idea for GRO came about 10 years ago, in Zimbabwe where Jan Willem Bosman Jansen’s wife started a children's home. During a time of food scarcity they began to use organic residual materials. Soon they learned that mushrooms grow well on the remains of coffee plantations. The local menu is thus enriched in a cheap and easy way with proteins, vitamins and minerals. So, why not in the Netherlands too, Bosman thinks, with the large quantities of coffee grounds that end up in the green bin at the office. "And by eating more mushrooms, we also reduce our consumption of animal protein."
Bosman Jansen chose the oyster mushroom because it grows well on coffee grounds mixed with straw and – unlike the familiar button mushroom – requires no animal manure. Moreover, it is a natural, tasty and nutritious meat substitute that can be grown locally. GRO collects coffee grounds throughout the country from major industrial caterers, who are often also customers for GRO’s oyster mushroom snacks and burgers. This working method is entirely in line with GRO's philosophy: circular working in production and trade.
Taste comes first
Meanwhile, GRO collects 6,000-8,000 kg of coffee grounds per week, enough to produce 2,000 kg of oyster mushrooms. The majority of the mushrooms is processed into snacks and burgers. For all their products, taste is the most important attribute. “We leave product development to our chefs; only then do we look at how to scale up production. Our experience shows that when taste is superb, nobody misses the meat" says the GRO director.
In addition to mushrooms and mushroom-based products, the entrepreneur sees many opportunities in the market for blends: combinations of meat and oyster mushrooms. GRO’s Blended Burger®, with half the meat replaced by oyster mushroom, is now available at industrial caterers and catering establishments and is being received enthusiastically. “With blended products, we also make it easier for avid meat eaters to consume less meat. For example, our impact, on reducing total animal protein consumption, is much greater than if we only develop products for vegetarians and flexitarians," says Bosman Jansen. Having been granted the European license for the American slogan "Blend is the trend®" and with their Blended Burger® proving that great ‘meat’ doesn’t have to be made from animals, the GRO director is looking for partners. "There is so much space on supermarket shelves for great innovative foods."
GRO is a member of Foodvalley NL. In March 2019, Foodvalley Members were guests of the Amsterdam-based company.