Peeled onions, onion rings, onion cubes. At Mol Fresh Food in Putten they know what to do with them and supply these onion products in large volumes to catering, fish wholesalers, vegetable wholesalers, bakeries, meal processing companies and the meat industry. The onion peeling company has a large amount of leftovers to process, but René and Anthony Mol have thought of a solution. With the company Mol Onion Ingredients they are prepared to supply onion protein extracts and fibres as colouring and flavour enhancers to the ingredient market. The efforts were even awarded the Veluwse Innovation prize last year. "We hope that it will be a large branch within our company within two years."
René and Anthony Mol
"Our leftovers used to go into the fermenter, but it cost a lot of money. This is why we started looking for alternatives. Together with our partner BRS we researched what valuable substances we can obtain from the onion leftovers," says Anthony. "It was a significant investment, but we have high hopes. The onion powders from red and yellow onions do very well as a flavour enhancer and sodium reducer as the powders give a salty experience. The latter is obviously very important from a health aspect. In the future we also want to process special powders from organic onions."
Besides the time investment that the onion powder demands, the 'regular' work also continues. "It's herring season at the moment, and the fish stores easily order five times as many onions. In the summer period most of the peeled onions go to catering, then it calms down a bit, before we prepare for the stew period," says Anthony. "We focus more and more on the German market for this, which is still quite behind in terms of convenience products, but will make the switch at some point. We have a good market position and want to expand it."
Mol gets most of the onions form growers from the Flevo and Noordoost polder, supplemented with sorters products. "We also get them from further away, but with the current onion prices the logistic costs add up. We supplement the assortment of Dutch onions with imported onions from Spain and Egypt," says Anthony. "We have been in our current building for five years now and we're very happy with it. If a container of Egyptian onions arrives, it's now unloaded within 20 minutes, which is very different story back before loading docks. We also completely updated the routing in the factory."
The low onion prices also have consequences for Mol Fresh Food. Our customers with whom we have contracts sometimes complain about the low market prices, but it's the same for us with the growers we have agreements with. Of course purchasing has gotten cheaper, but our father always taught us that you can make more from a Euro than 50 cents. It's hard to predict how the coming seeding onions will go, but the fact is that the price of Spanish onions is decreasing now as well."
Shallots also belong to the assortment of Mol Fresh Food. "You can't survive on them alone, but it is a more exclusive product, which is very popular among luxury restaurants and some are sold to cruise ships," says Anthony. The volume of organic onions is growing, but is still limited in percentages. It's often a challenge to find good quality organic onions at the end of the season. The size sorting of organic onions was also a problem last year."
Whereas vegetable processors in the past took the initiative to peel the onions themselves, they have all rescinded this, he says. "It's fine in a year with a good harvest, but if most isn't suitable for processing, it becomes a lot more difficult."