About Zwamcijsje B.V.
- Founders: Mendelt Tillema & Rick Houtepen
- Based in: 2022
- Workers: 2
- Cash raised: €25,000
- Final purpose: Grow to be an ordinary substitute for the sausage roll.
Making one sausage roll releases 431.7 grams of CO2 and consumes practically 5 liters of water. Every roll additionally requires half a sq. meter of farmland annually. Subsequently, it is among the most closely polluting bakery merchandise. Mendelt Tillema has discovered an environmentally pleasant various. He has developed a vegan sausage roll comprised of circularly grown mushrooms and they’re promoting like hotcakes. On this instalment of start-up-of-the-day, Mendelt Tillema talks concerning the growth of his firm Zwamcijsje and the roll of the identical title.
To start with, inform us about your roll. What’s it?
“Zwamcijsje is strictly what the title in Dutch implies. A Dutch sausage roll comprised of mushrooms. The sausage roll has been a public favourite for years in The Netherlands, however we wished to make it future-proof. That’s why we used mushrooms for the filling as a substitute of meat. As well as, we don’t use dairy butter, however plant-based butter and don’t unfold the bread with egg both, however with a pea combination to get that stunning brown coloration.”
How did you give you the concept?
“I studied plant sciences myself and delved into meat expertise. We began with an task from that examine. We had been requested there to consider a future-proof product. Then we got here up with mushrooms fairly rapidly. The concept of constructing a sausage roll from mushrooms was truly an apparent one on the time.”
What’s it precisely that makes the Zwamcijsje round?
“The mushrooms we use are literally the stalks of the oyster mushroom. These mushrooms come from the Netherlands and are grown primarily in North Brabant and Limburg. The oyster mushroom grows on straw, which is definitely a waste stream. There’s a lot wooden matter in that straw which you could’t use it to feed animals. We use the grain to bake bread, however not a lot is completed with that straw. That’s why we use it to develop our mushrooms. The stalks of the oyster mushroom are too powerful for most individuals. We will put that property to good use. In reality, once we warmth the mushroom you get a very nice grooved construction.”
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Where does the straw come from?
“The straw comes from Western Europe. We really want everything to be done locally, although that is a step-by-step process. You can’t do everything ‘in-house’ anyhow, because you do need certain machines and specialisms. So, we are now making this product together with several parties and have partnered with VAESS. That’s a food engineering company. They started to help us think about the filling of the roll and how to keep the taste as close as possible to the original sausage roll. They also helped us think about ways to scale up the roll. Then we approached a bakery and they saw the potential of what we’re doing. Finally, we found a company that cleans mushrooms. The whole chain has basically grown naturally this way.”
How do you make a vegan sausage roll that looks like the original?
“You want to create something unique, but at the same time it has to remain recognizable for people who are going to eat the roll. It’s not nice if people are expecting the taste of a sausage roll, but taste something completely different. Therefore, our starting point from the outset has been that people should be able to recognize the mushrooms in the roll, but still have the taste experience of the original sausage roll. One way we do that is with spices. A lot is involved, but we have very good bakers and meat technologists for that.”
What problems did you run into when making the Zwamcijsje?
“Storage and logistics were a major challenge. It’s only when you are able to produce a lot that storage and logistics become affordable. Developing the roll itself actually went extremely well. Thanks to our partners, the basis was very solid from the get-go. It is also no coincidence that the Netherlands is leading the transition towards plant-based food. We have a great deal of knowledge in this country. It is artisanship.”
Was it difficult to secure investment?
“That actually wasn’t too hard. The costs are actually very low. We didn’t put in a lot of money ourselves, but we did put in a lot of time. I’ve noticed that you need a lot of contacts most of all. We started selling it in May and then we went to the bank to ask for an investment. That was pretty easy, because the sales figures looked really positive. It just fits in with the current trend. It’s very clear that things have to change. The sausage roll is very popular, but people know that it is not a green product and that it’s also unhealthy.”
What is your ultimate goal?
“If we want to make this a success, we need to scale up massively. It’s a market where large volumes are needed to really make an impact. I think in the future we will be doing more with mushrooms. They grow into a full crop in just six weeks, so you can harvest them quickly. It also saves a lot in terms of land and you don’t have to source them from far away. I think it’s good to find ways so we can become as self-sufficient as possible. I think it would be very cool if Zwamcijsje eventually becomes the successor to the sausage roll.”
What makes your product better than what’s already on the market?
“We have a very positive story with a great message. Unlike most meat substitutes, we actually do make an effort to tell people that mushrooms are in the roll. If you stress all the time what is not in it, then people get the idea that they are eating a fake product. In that sense, we are taking a different approach. Apart from that, it is a locally grown and circular crop. The taste is naturally very close to the traditional sausage roll. It has a very nice ‘bite’ to it, you just don’t need all that fat anymore.”
Read the other stories in this series here
Spread all over Europe, thousands of young companies are working hard every day to make our world a lot better tomorrow. It is precisely from these small companies that the most surprising and innovative ideas emerge. That is why Innovation Origins puts one of these start-ups in the spotlight every day.
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