In recent years, a trend toward processing vegetables into food products, to help people eat their daily fruit and vegetable quota, has emerged. Linsie Meijer of Dutch start-up Sophyn Greens supports this trend. It offers vegetable pasta, made with real, fresh vegetables, under the name Sophini. "It's a dream to eventually color the shelves with vegetables and entice consumers to use more and more of these," she begins.
Linsie says she got the idea for Sophyn Greens in her backyard. "I was working at Van Oers United (now Primeale United) and was involved in innovation and a bit with residual flows. At one point I started wondering if we couldn't do something with all those vegetable byproducts; if we couldn't make them sustainable."
"I decided to delve into the drying process and everything that entails," she says. A short time later, Sophyn Greens - a combination of Linsie's daughters' names, Sophie and Fynne - was born. The product choice eventually fell on pasta made from fresh vegetables.
Linsie has since abandoned the drying step of the process and decided to exclusively use fresh vegetables. "We currently still get these from a local greengrocer, as we're still relatively small scale. However, the ultimate goal is to work entirely with residual streams. That's not feasible yet because there isn't a constant supply for production. You always have these teething problems when starting up a business, of course."
Yet, as young as Sophyn Greens is, it is already taking a big step forward in this regard. "We're at an advanced stage of discussions with parties such as Harvest House, Peelpioneers, and Coroos. We want to use their byproducts for our pastes. We're also looking at working with local grains to produce a fully circular local pasta," Linsie says.
She explains that the production process is actually very straightforward. "We process vegetables into a puree, which we add to the pasta dough. Sophini pasta consists of 35% fresh vegetables; consider that a handful. It's not meant to replace a person's daily vegetable requirement completely; it's a supplement. So, you're subconsciously making a healthier choice, which also encourages you to use more vegetables."
The Sophyn assortment currently includes carrot, spinach, and parsnip pasta. "We're also experimenting with red beets. To ensure a constant supply, we deliberately choose vegetables that are available of a good quality year-round. That's why we stopped using, for example, cauliflower. We played around with that for a while, but there are a lot of supply issues in the winter," explains Meijer.
At the moment, she is working hard on getting Sophyn Greens off the ground. "We're filling the incoming packages, and this week we'll be visiting potential customers for the first time. Also, we'll begin delivering to VersPlus (a wholesaler specializing in local products - ed.) starting in mid-September. We'll keep building from there."
For now, Linsie is doing all this on her own. "For the set-up, it was fine to do it alone, but I do need to expand to introduce and sell the products. Our webshop, where you can place orders directly, is going live in two weeks. We want to get people to gradually and organically consume more fruit and vegetables. You can follow the startup via Sophini's social media channels," Linsie concludes.