Interviews · 14min read
Interview with Dylan Duinmaijer and Stéphanie de Jong from The Fast Good Company
Dive headfirst into the plant-based frozen food sector and learn how this exciting startup is shaking up the industry with tasty, healthy and sustainable meals.
About The Fast Good Company
The passionate team behind The Fast Good Company believes that food should both taste great and fuel people’s bodies in positive ways. The Good Food Company’s 100% plant-based meals are packed with nutritious vegetables and are made entirely using natural ingredients. With a strong focus on quality, transparency, honesty, and sustainability, this Dutch startup is surely one to watch in Europe’s frozen foods sector.
About Dylan Duinmaijer and Stéphanie de Jong
Hailing from the Netherlands, Dylan Duinmaijer founded The Fast Good Company in 2019. Prior to embarking on his entrepreneurial journey, Dylan spent almost five years as a Concept Developer for local Paleo caterer Paleo CaVé. He also has experience in Marketing, Account Management and Sales.
Stéphanie de Jong joined the team in 2020 as the startup’s Brand Manager. With over a decade experience in design, merchandising, marketing, branding and sales in the retail sector under her belt, Stéphanie brings a wide mix of skills and know-how to the table.
At The Fast Good Company, your mission is to turn fast food into fast good. In what ways has ProVeg brought you closer to transforming this dream into reality?
D: ProVeg has brought us closer to transforming our dream into reality by helping give us better insights into how we can professionalise our product. They fine-tuned and picked out all the mistakes that our product had in the beginning. Whether it’s looking at taste, looking at our margins, looking at our ways of production—they’ve looked at all these different aspects and really fine-tuned them to get us ready for the market.
In addition, they gave us a lot of insights and shared expertise from people who are in the field; people who know what we are going through, who know our mission. All these things combined have really helped us a lot.
Your first line of products features sweet potato pie, bolognese lasagna and tikka masala. Tell us more about the processes that went into the development of these different products.
D: Currently, our product line consists of three meals. When we look at the meals that we're trying to produce, or the line that we're trying to create, our main focus is to design really tasty meals. When it comes to creating our concept, we don't only look at the taste, but we also look at the health side of things. We analyse our meals and look at our recipes and think, "Hey, does this have the right amount of protein? The right amount of fats? The right amount of carbohydrates?". Because we don't only want to create tasty meals but healthy meals as well. It's kind of our slogan. We say that "We turn fast food into fast good." So we look at all these aspects—the taste side of things, the health side of things, but also having a long shelf life. We are also good for the planet—because of the shelf life, we throw away less food.
S: And being plant-based, of course.
D: ...and being plant-based! For us, this is all taken into account in the R&D side of things. And I think that's one of the core strengths of our concept.
S: Also, most of the time, our meals are traditional but with a twist. We like to make them tasty, but there has to be this surprise element to them. So we always look at how we can do that. For example, with the Tikka Masala, we did that with jackfruit.
D: I would definitely say that we create meals which you would always recognise but would usually take a lot of time to make. And they really do have this surprising aspect to them, and this healthy tasty twist to them.
What specific qualities do you look for in your business partners?
D: The specific qualities that we look for in the business partners that we work with differs a bit. When we look at suppliers, for example, we look at what key ingredients and what type of products this supplier can give us. What are the characteristics of their product? Do they have products which are high in protein, for example? Good in taste? Do they work well within our meals? Also, the right margins? That’s what we look for on the supplier side of things.
On the wholesaler side of things, we ask other questions. Does this wholesaler or this supermarket chain have the right audience? Does this fit the target audience that we look for when it comes to our ideal consumer? It’s also great if their mission is aligned with ours. Do they look and think the same way as we do?
S: For producers, we also like to look for partners who can actually scale because we need to make sure that we are able to deliver to our retailers. So we are looking for the same mission, or at least that they are in line with ours, and that they are able to help us scale up. It also helps us if they already have a network of retail partners that we can work with.
D: To summarise, we look for business partners who can strengthen us and help us in multiple aspects of doing business. I think that's what makes an ideal partner.
In your experience, what are the biggest challenges the food industry currently faces? And what contribution will The Fast Good Company make over the next ten years to help the industry overcome these?
D: From our experience, the biggest challenge that we’re facing in the food industry at the moment is the perception that people have of frozen food. Some people think it might be unhealthy or that it lacks taste. And I think that, especially in the Netherlands, it’s a bit of a challenge to change that aspect of consumer behaviour concerning frozen food. This is less the case in Germany or the UK, where consumer behaviour towards frozen food is somewhat different. So one of our challenges is to show how funky and tasty and exciting frozen food can be. That’s one of the biggest challenges we’re facing at the moment.
S: I think what we’re doing now is luring people in with the good taste [of our meals]. At the same time, we want to work together with other companies in the frozen food sector to build a community and make sure that we can stand strong. Together, we can talk more about the benefits of frozen food, communicate that you don’t lose any nutrition, and show that it can even be healthier than fresh food.
There is also the topic of being plant-based. For us, this is a big challenge because not everyone eats plant-based diets yet, so not everyone is convinced. What we would like to do is make our meals so tasty that even the meat-eaters who try it want to have it again. Our aim is that they can savour the taste of something without missing meat. So we essentially lure them into [plant-based eating] with our tasty food.
Food waste is one of your biggest environmental and societal concerns, and as a company, you strive to implement 'waste-free' operations. What specific measures will this entail?
D: Food waste is one of our biggest environmental and societal concerns because one-third of all food that’s produced globally is currently wasted. By freezing food, our meals have a longer shelf life (12 months) which will lead to less food waste. Thus, we’ll make sure that everything we produce gets to the store and is consumed. So that’s how we aim to reduce food waste on the production side of things as part of our waste-free mission.
In addition to that, we’ve got our packaging. Our containers are made from recycled aluminium, meaning we use recycled packaging. The aluminium also allows meals to be heated up in the packaging in the oven or microwave, so we also make sure to combine the sustainability aspect with the convenience aspect. Because they have to be convenient for the consumer. We’ve got several items which make up our waste-free mission. We’re not entirely there yet with some of them, but this is our starting point.
S: The plastic lid on top of the aluminium container, for example, still needs improvement. But these are things we want to improve in the future. We plan to keep a record of what we’re doing and track what we can improve in the future, so we’re setting goals for the upcoming years. Then, at the end of every year, we will reflect on what we have achieved and what we still need to improve.