Since September 2022, the north-side of Ede-Wageningen station is home to a new retail concept: Pantry. An unmanned local shop that sells fresh and healthy local produce from regional suppliers via an app. Initiator Lukas Lagerweij on the background of Pantry and the link with Wageningen University & Research (WUR).
Lagerweij: “The underlying idea is that Pantry brings high-quality locally produced products from various suppliers to a village centre or other place where there are a lot of people, such as a railway station. Kind of like a hip version of an old-fashioned grocery shop. That way you don’t have to go to the various producers yourself, but you can activate an app, easily pick up the fresh and healthy products of your choice, and checkout at a single sales point.” To find out how this works exactly, see the Pantry website.
Concept with potential
The Pantry concept originated in Wilp, where the first location opened in the autumn of 2021. A second location in Ede-Wageningen came into view when the municipal council of Ede, NS, WUR, the Dutch Nutrition Centre, and the Healthy Food and Sustainable Food Environment City Deal issued a pitch. Lagerweij: “The municipal council of Ede was keen to expand its store base with shops offering healthy products and, in this context, they were also looking for an alternative to all the fast-food providers at the train station. We won the pitch, and some of our ‘co-pitchers’ are now also represented in Pantry with their products. We are also open to suitable complementary products from others. Pantry facilitates the space and the technology.” The current location in the station’s bicycle parking area is away from the walking route and therefore not that convenient, which also affects the number of visitors, says Lagerweij. Fortunately, the number of suppliers is still growing. Lagerweij also definitely sees potential, and Pantry is seizing this opportunity to explore opportunities in the Food Valley, at the new Ede-Wageningen station and at other NS stations.
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Link with Wageningen University & Research
Lagerweij talks about the partnership with various educational institutions, such as Wageningen University & Research and the Ede Christian University of Applied Sciences. At an earlier stage in the project, students from the Consumption & Healthy Lifestyles chair group worked out which products would be suitable for sale at a station as part of a consultancy assignment for Pantry. “A shop at a railway station requires a different selection of products than a village shop. At a station, there is more demand for to-go products. This is how we arrived at the selection of just under 90 products that is currently available at Pantry. Students also helped us figure out how to improve visibility and marketing.” In the future, Lagerweij would like to create a ‘facilities room’ where producers can, for example, pack together or prepare ready-made meals. Here too, students could play a role.
Interesting for consumers and startups
As a train passenger, why should you check out Pantry at Ede-Wageningen station? The website lists many reasons: short chain, fair prices, sustainable solution. As Lagerweij puts it: “We offer fresh produce of excellent quality. And you get to support local producers who provide unprocessed produce that is in tune with the season, but also fresh whenever possible. For instance, we have a chicken farmer who comes every day to stock the shelves with boxes of freshly-laid free-range eggs.” Besides well-known fresh produce, Pantry also offers innovative products such as vegan meat substitutes and oyster mushroom burgers, as well as products from startups such as bars made from beer grains and granola made from old bread. Lagerweij: “So if you are a startup and you are interested in selling or testing your product on a small scale, please don’t hesitate to contact us via the website.”
The Healthy Food and Sustainable Food Environment City Deal is one of the City Deals between cities, the Dutch national government, other government agencies, businesses, and social organisations to strengthen growth, innovation, and quality of life in Dutch cities.