Last July Lidl and StartLife jointly organized the second Future Goods Week. Six sustainable food products from promising startups were made available in all Lidl stores in the Netherlands. What are the lessons learned? Are consumers truly interested in sustainable food? And will there be a third edition next year? Let’s find out.

 “Due to the Coronavirus we could not organize a glamorous launch party as with the first edition of the Lidl Future Goods Week, which was very unfortunate”, says Caroline Bijkerk, who was in the lead for organizing the week together with Lidl. Still, within days after the promotion started the first products were already sold out in numerous Lidl stores. “Dutch consumers are indeed showing a growing preference for more sustainable and healthy food,” Caroline remarks. “At StartLife we also see a growing number of sustainable food startups knocking on our doors. So with both a rising demand and supply it seems crystal clear we are heading in the right direction.”

Lessons learned

The Future Goods Weeks is a unique opportunity for food startups to experience what it takes to get their products in the shelves of a large retailer. As expected and intended, the participating startups learned a great deal in this real live retail-readiness exercise. And the startups learned far more than they expected beforehand, as the following comments by three involved entrepreneurs show.

For Moritz Huber, founder of Sauercrowd, it was truly elevating to reach such a large audience and test their market at such scale. “It was also very insightful to learn about the working process of a large retailer and all the administration that is involved at this level. I had no idea.”

Brad Vanstone, co-founder of Willicroft, also shares his lessons: “Make sure to give yourself a buffer with deadlines as things will inevitably go wrong. And do not shy away from seeking professional advice when it comes to food labeling regulations and requirements.”

Madeleine Gielens, co-founder of MaGie Creations (BrewBar), describes the whole experience as a bootcamp for both professionalizing a food startup and growing as an entrepreneur. “Aside from the business aspects, you really get to develop yourself as an entrepreneur and elevate your problem solving skills to a whole new level. I sincerely recommend other food startups to pursue the same experience.”

Lidl: We want more!

“Superb sales promotion last week. I would love to see this more often at Lidl!” and “The burgers are truly delicious!” “These are just two online comments by Lidl customers, but they sum up the success and lessons of this year’s edition nicely,” observes Erik van den Hoogen, senior manager purchasing at Lidl Netherlands.

“We see an increasing number of customers with a preference for food products that are sustainably produced and are tasty at the same time. At Lidl we also find it important to pay more continuous attention to our themes ‘food waste’ and ‘vegan products’. So from now on Lidl will provide shelf space to sustainable startups all year round”. Food startups that are interested can contact StartLife.