Every year, incredible amounts of food, fruit and vegetables are thrown away for no reason. And that’s not the way to go about it. At least not if you ask Truls Christenson, CEO of Rscued, who’s on a mission to turn leftovers into must-haves. We had a chat with him about how to best make juice from all the fruits and vegetables that no one else wants.
Why did you start Rscued?
Helsingborg is Sweden’s largest port for fruit and vegetables. Almost everything that is imported to Sweden lands here, and there are huge warehouses scattered around the city that house all the produce that’s about to be distributed across the country. Of course, this also means that there will be a lot of waste here – some thirty percent of all fruit grown gets thrown away – and that’s why we started Rscued. We discovered that there was nothing wrong with most of everything that was discarded. On the contrary, it was actually worth saving and the easiest way to do so was to make juice.
How do you get hold of all the fruit?
As I mentioned, we live in the city that has Sweden’s largest fruit and vegetable port. This means that there are lots of warehouses, wholesalers and shops that can supply us with discarded produce. But we also receive deliveries from the rest of Sweden, and regularly drive to pick up food waste from Malmö, Gothenburg and Stockholm. In 2021, we took care of 439 tones of fruit and vegetables. It takes a lot of logistics to make everything work smoothly and an even greater amount of creativity to quickly produce high-quality products. Our challenge is that we don’t know what will get delivered each day – the range varies depending on season, variety and maturity – so we need to stay flexible around what products we produce; juices, shots, smoothies, ice cream, chips and hummus are just a few examples of what we have launched so far. As Rscued has grown, it has also become much easier for us to get our hands on fruit and vegetables. Today we are established, we have our own factory and we’re used to receiving and handling large quantities of unknown produce on short notice.
What’s the strangest delivery you’ve received?
Over the years, we have received a lot of requests that we haven’t been able to accommodate. Some years ago, we were asked if we could rescue 40 tons of watermelons, which is quite bulky. We declined the entire delivery but accepted to receive two tons. The problem with watermelon is that it can’t be pasteurized. The taste completely changes for the worse when heated up – it becomes a bland and unpleasant and is not suited to make juice from. We also regularly receive large deliveries of bananas which can also be tricky to handle. Bananas are sensitive and the must be sorted and peeled by hand. This week, we’ve just received 6 tons, so there will probably be a bit of late-night peel work to get the job done before they are too ripe. Otherwise, the strangest delivery is probably the 18 tons of pineapple we got from a drug bust in Rotterdam. We had no idea what to do with them, so we had to google “how to make pineapple juice” and then start cooking as fast as we could. In the end, we actually managed to salvage 14 of the 18 tons received. There were 25,000 bottles of pineapple juice ready for the store shelves in just a couple of weeks’ time.
Which Rscued is your favorite so far?
Wow, that’s hard to say. We’ve made so many different varieties over the years. But if I must choose one, I’d opt for the blood orange and Sichuan pepper shot that we just launched. I think it turned out unexpectedly well with a slightly surprising “poppy” effect from the pepper.
And which one are you the least happy with?
We once tried our luck with tea. It was a hipster-banja tea that was a fusion with our juice. Didn’t work at all – neither in taste nor sales.
What is the next step in the development?
Last year, we saved just over 400 tons of fruit and vegetables, but there is incredible potential to save more of the food that gets thrown away, not only fruit and vegetables. Just take all the bread that goes in the trash every year. There’s definitely something to be done there. It’s also no secret that we’re looking to start new ventures outside of Sweden as well. Food is thrown away to the same extent everywhere in the world and we want to help change that.