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Author Sarah Kirton
Sarah Kirton
Created on Jul 3rd, 2023
Fact checked by Emma Vince

Health Food Wall 2023: Take-Aways with a Difference

Anouk Snelders is the Founder of Health Food Wall, a pioneering company that revolutionizes fast, convenient, and healthy take-away options. Established in 2018, Health Food Wall gained tremendous success with its first pop-up store in the heart of Amsterdam. DiscoveryRank finds out more.

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind Health Food Wall and how the idea for a fast, convenient, and healthy meal solution came about?

When I was 17, I had the ambition to study for a year in the United States, at a high school. I was welcomed into a warm host family in the state of Arizona, and enjoyed high school life - including American school cuisine. During that time, this consisted of pizza, tortilla bowls and lots of vending snacks. 

Needless to say, I had no trouble returning home with 20+ pounds. When I returned home as an 18 year old and started college in Amsterdam, I focussed on developing a healthy lifestyle including working out regularly and eating well. I became very interested in a healthy lifestyle and decided I wanted to assist others to adopt healthy behaviours. This passion flourished when I studied for my Bachelors in Science (Food and Nutrition), to become a dietitian.

As a dietitian I noticed that most people are very interested in, and willing to adapt healthier eating behaviours. However, this is made more difficult in the out-of-home market, where mostly unhealthy food is offered. The unhealthy foods are offered fast, easy and cheap, which makes this choice very attractive for most of society.

When I finished my Bachelors, I started working as a chef with a focus on fresh and healthy cuisine, mostly revolving around sustainable ingredients and/or plants. I travelled a lot via public transportation, and this is when I really noticed how high the bar to choose for a healthy fresh product was! In The Netherlands, you see a lot of vending automats filled with high fat, high sugar and high salt products. They are present in sectors such as public transportation but also in the cure & care and education sectors. I became inspired by the speed and efficiency of the vending machines, and day dreamed about a concept that would combine these factors with a healthy and more sustainable offering. This became the origin of Health Food Wall.

What sets Health Food Wall apart from other grab-and-go options in the market?

We offer a 100% plant-based, data-driven catering service, which makes it possible to choose a handmade plant-based choice 24/7 in the out-of-home market. Our 100% plant-based proposition is unique in the vending market. Also, we offer a full-service including product development, production, logistics, maintenance, customer service, hardware, software and data-analytics. This makes us a preferred partner for many organizations, because many other fresh vending solutions depend on external partners for either food, logistics or service. 

How does the innovative technology used by your Intelligent Fridge contribute to the customer experience?

Our data-driven service contributes highly to our customer experience. We use the critical data collected from the Fridges to optimise our service for the organisations and partners that we work with.

Zooming in on the RFID-technology: the customer uses our RFID-tag when they use the Fridges. Via RFID-tags, we can optimise our stock and offer a customised service to the actual demand of the customers. The customers can choose a product from the Fridge, close the door and simply walk away. The product(s) are registered and charged automatically via the RIFD-tags, which contributes to the speed and efficiency of our concept!

We are currently also working on developing a new Mobile application to extend our service to our customers via data and software.

Could you share some success stories or customer feedback that highlight the impact Health Food Wall has had on promoting healthier eating habits and providing convenient options for people on the go?

We are extremely happy with the expansion of our machine park in Schiphol Airport. We opened the first Health Food Wall in 2019 and expanded with two Fridges in 2023. We are very thankful for the trust and partnership of an organisation as large and impactful as Schiphol Airport.

A really great fit is shown in the education sector, where the vegan student associations are very happy to have such a large offering of vegan products in their schools. We also extend the opening hours of traditional caterers that are present in the education sector in The Netherlands, which fit the flexible study demands of students these days.

Our focus is largely on the cure and care sector. We honestly believe that we can still make an incredibly large impact in this sector - because shouldn’t people that are sick make even healthier food choices than they otherwise would? Unfortunately, this isn’t the case most of the time. We see best-selling products are still soft drinks, ice cream and sweets. This is why our collaboration with the larger hospitals in The Netherlands mean a lot to us. We are proud to work with Dr. Prof. Koen Joosten (Pediatrician at ErasmusMC) and receive thankful messages from employees, parents and patients from all the hospitals where we feature.

How has the expansion of Health Food Wall's locations, including Schiphol Airport and Amsterdam UMC, impacted the business?

Our expansion has been necessary to develop a proof of concept of our proposition, as well as our B2B proposition as our B2C offering. It is easy to assume market fit as we expanded with a handful of fridges, however we have experienced that every sector has its own ambitions and needs. By researching the scale-up impact with experts in an Accelerator Program hosted by Invest-NL and Foodvalley, we have developed a safe format for scaling.

The scaling of our business has also made us more visible in the market and created more trust for the organisations to choose our service.

Are there any plans to further expand the concept beyond the Netherlands through licensing opportunities?

We are currently scaling throughout The Netherlands, and still see a lot of potential for scaling in the coming years. We are currently focussing on starting our first international pilots in Belgium, and see a lot of potential for other foreign expansion as well. Licensing would be one of the many options we could explore, but also smart collaborations with dedicated and strategic partnerships. 

With the growing demand for plant-based options, how has Health Food Wall adapted to cater to this trend, and what strategies have you implemented to ensure a diverse and appealing range of plant-based products for customers?

When we opened our first locations in 2018 and 2019, we offered an almost 100% plant-based menu, with very limited vegetarian options. We believed the fresh vending concept needed to comfortably be adopted first, before the organisations and customers would be ready to adopt a 100% plant-based fresh vending concept. Over the last years the plant-based kitchen has been adopted quickly in The Netherlands. Organisations, the education sector and hospitals have been ambitious to make a positive CO2-impact and focus more and more on sustainability. We help organisations reach their sustainability goals with our vegan assortment.

We make sure to mention that the products are 100% plant-based, so that our customers can easily and quickly figure out the label. However, we focus mostly on flavour, price and quality of the products, which fits the demands of the flexitarian target group (our largest customer group). By not loudly mentioning that the products are plant-based, we address this large target group well. This was developed by thorough customer research and our collected data.

In our recipes, we often work with plant-based meat products, prepared with delicious dressings, spices and/or cooking methods. The plant-based meats lower the bar for flexitarians, and, as studies suggest, they look for similar products in plant-based recipes.

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