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initiative goes viral
Pick up for free: 6 million snack tomatoes
"Offered for free: six million snack tomatoes. The taste is perfect, but due to the ongoing heat they are slightly wrinkled and a bit dented. Therefore we cannot sell them under our Tommies brand, nor sell them to the supermarket. We do not want to throw them out, so feel free to drop by and help yourself."
This remarkable advertisement appeared on Marktplaats, the Dutch eBay. It was posted by the tomato growers of Greenco, with an acreage of over 40 hectares in the Netherlands, they're one of the biggest players in the segment. The tomatoes offered online were from a fresh crop and due to the ongoing heatwave in the Netherlands, the head of the plant had to cope with shrinkage, and the shelf life of the tomatoes shortened.
The advertisement was published on Thursday. The tomatoes could be collected in Honselersdijk and Middenmeer on Friday afternoon. The advertisement went viral and with thousands of people sharing the ads, attention grew quickly. Over the weekend pick-up points opened in Someren, Amsterdam, Utrecht and The Hague.
A traffic jam occurred within hours
Following the massive response on the ad, the run-up has been overwhelming. "20 tons of tomatoes were gone within two hours", an overwhelmed Ab van Marrewijk told us Friday in Honselersdijk. "People could pick up up to 100 kilos without an appointment, and that happened much more massively than we had expected. We had to activate traffic controllers quickly to manage the parking lot and the traffic jam."
Around 3 PM a big sign was put out, reading 'Uitverkocht' (sold out), but people kept showing up. Also in Middenmeer the tomatoes where gone within hours and on Saturday the situation was no different in Someren: people queuing up, bringing grocery bags, buckets, crates and even carts to collect as many tomatoes as possible. Eventually a limit of 1 crate per person was set, to serve as many people as possible.
According to Ab, this was the harvest of one week. Food banks and soup factories weren't able to cope with the production. Therefore this was the solution. "We're glad we were able to give the tomatoes a good destination."
The company won't tell the costs of the give-away, but according to a local newspaper a guess of 200,000 euro isn't far off the mark.
Besides a discussion on the value of food and a gigantic run-up to the company, the media attention has been overwhelming as well: Attention in the biggest Dutch newspapers: Telegraaf (1, 2, 3), AD (1, 2) and the Dutch national broadcasting agency (1) and many local publishers (1, 2, 3) meant that many people were reached. Something to think about in the next summer period, maybe?
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