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How jams are making the industry more sustainable!

It is no secret that tons of perfectly good food are being wasted worldwide. The Netherlands alone wastes two billion kilograms of food annually.

But as awareness around this issue is growing, more companies are putting their skills and strengths into producing products that are giving wasted food streams a new life. An example of such a company is Twisted Jams. This Dutch condiments producer gives healthy fruits and vegetables destined for the bin a new life in glass pots.

Twisted Jams

Based in Utrecht, The Netherlands, Twisted Jams uses waste stream fruits and vegetables to createe condiments such as jams and chutneys. They prefer to call this produce “second chance produce” which they get directly from the growers. Many of their products are then used in restaurants and hotels. The brains behind Twisted Jams are Mirjam van der Werff and Angela Vlot, both of whom have prior experience in the hospitality industry as a chef and a manager.

Photograph: Jan Eigenraam

Combining passion with expertise

During our conversation with Mirjam, we asked her how their background in the hospitality industry has affected their business as it is now. She replied that they noticed how much food is wasted at food fairs because of rules and regulations.

“There are even rules on how thick the slices of bread for sandwiches need to be. This often means that the last thinner slices are thrown away instead of for example making a sandwich with three thinner slices,” she says.

This is when they started looking into how they could turn produces with a short shelf life into products with a long shelf life. They wanted to combine their love for food with their love for looking after the planet to create versatile products for the industry.

Sourcing “second chance” fruits and vegetables

When choosing their fruits and vegetables Twisted Jams tries to get as much as possible from local suppliers, but they will also take on foods from the larger trade such as mangos.

“We like to purposefully call it second chance produce because these fruits and vegetables are not waste. They are usually items that are just not aesthetically pleasing. And most of the fruits and vegetables are seasonal as it really depends on what the producers are selling,” Mirjam explains.

Photograph: Jan Eigenraam

She continues, “Our end products often taste better because the ingredients used have been able to fully ripe on the tree before being picked. Most fruits and vegetables are picked before they are ripe to ensure a longer shelf life. But as we start the production directly after receiving the ingredients, we are able to use very ripe fruits and vegetables. The quality and taste of these ingredients are still 100% up to standard.”

Vegetable jams for a more unique experience

From these produces, Twisted Jams makes an array of items such as jams, chutney, and relishes. “I love making vegetable jams because you can make interesting combinations, but they still are sweet like a true jam,” Mirjam says.

If we look at their website we see some of the interesting combinations they make such as spicy tomato jam, red onion relish, and beetroot, orange, and star anise jam. All of their products are vegan except their caramel.

Photograph: Jan Eigenraam


Sourcing produces directly from growers

“We get all the fruits and vegetables through direct contact with growers who we have built up a relationship with. 80 – 85% of all the products we use come directly from the producer. Not all of our growers have the organic label, but all of them are very conscious of how they cultivate.

Some grow their produce very organically, but just don’t have the label. This way we can also ensure that more items are used instead of thrown away,” Mirjam says. We then asked her how these otherwise thrown-away products are paid for. To which she answered: “We pay for everything. All of these products have used the same raw materials and fossil energy so they deserve a fair price. We ask growers how much they want for the products.”

So how can this impact the industry? During our conversation, Mirjam mentioned that many hotels they work with are aiming to receive or have The Green Key Certificate. The Green Key Certificate is a voluntary eco-label that companies in the tourism industry can receive based on strict sustainability criteria.

This means they are implementing more and more sustainable practices such as being critical about the products they are using in their businesses. To many hotels they deliver the same amount of jams each month, of course differing per season and which fruits are available in each.

But they also create jams, chutneys, and other condiments for various restaurants and cafes. All of which are making more and more responsible choices. “You see that more businesses are making more thought-through decisions, there are more options beyond just clicking the list for the wholesaler.

There are many cool companies offering sustainable alternatives. It is becoming more mainstream to be sustainable and it can also be a good move commercially,” Mirjam explains.

Creating jams for chefs

But aside from the items produced in larger batches, Twisted Jams is also creating personalised items for chefs and kitchens.

“We often get calls from chefs we work with that they are going to change their menu or want something specific on the menu and are looking for the perfect condiment. For example to accompany a dessert, fish, or cheese. Or they are changing the seasonal menu. This is when we look at what will suit the dish best. Angela is a great chef and we are very critical of the taste. We love experimenting and making fully customized products. Here we can add ingredients such as blackberries or lavender for example. Of all our products we do a taste test every 8 liters,” Mirjam explains.

When we asked her what they take into consideration when making customized products she answered: “It is important that a condiment is exciting and really fits the chef and the dish. But it is also important that we are able to deliver the amount of condiment needed for the length of time the item is on the menu. And of course that no waste is created to make products.”

Reducing packaging anf food waste

Twisted Jams also reduces the waste of packaging by using glass pots with a deposit on them. So that when a restaurant receives the next batch they can hand in the old pots so that these can be reused. For consumers, Twisted Jams gives tips on how they can reuse the glass pots themselves.

But why is reducing our food waste so important? And why is it great to have companies coming up with products to utilize our alternative food streams?

A few reasons are that with the reduction of food waste, we also are using less land, water, fossil energy, and other resources to produce this food. Another is that less land is used which gives us more room for biodiversity.

Some smaller tips Mirjam suggests to reduce the amount of food wasted in your business are:

  1. Make conscious decisions and explore which options there are for the products you are using in your kitchen.
  2. Encourage people to take their leftovers home. Lower the threshold for people to ask for a doggy bag.
  3. Offer smaller portions so leftovers are avoided.

Looking into Twisted Jams shows that what we serve can have an impact in how food waste is controlled at the source of the supply chain. Making conscious decisions about which food products are used in our dishes not only creates sustainable and delicious dishes but also makes the world a little bit better.

Want to further reduce food waste in your business?


Read more about our energy efficient Premier refrigerators that keep the air temperature stable so your produces won’t go to waste.