Restore Venture Studio - Restoring the way we produce and consume food in central Chile.
A full redesign of the value chain for food in la Zona Central de Chile creating positive change for people, environment, and local economy.
Chile is a country with a lot of natural resources and a growing economy. The current linear supply chain of fast-moving consumer goods produces enormous amounts of waste and leads to a depletion of nature reserves. There’s a large number of small farmers with limited revenues who lack access to markets and sustainability practices. In the meantime, Chile is facing the effects of climate change on a daily basis: the scarcity of water and degradation of soil are visible for everyone.
With Restore Venture Studio, we’re redesigning the way we farm and consume in Chile by building circular businesses. We want to transform the agricultural system, create solutions to reduce and reuse current waste streams and enable conscious consumption. We believe in a shorter and more fair food chain, in which we reduce food loss, deliver fair value to the producer and stop the constant extraction of natural resources.
As a venture studio we set up multiple ventures in our area that all strengthen each other in the realization of our vision. This is the pitch of our Farm to Fork venture Fresh connecting farmers directly to customers in the greater Santiago area. Our solution is to drastically shorten the chain, directly linking farmers and consumers.
Hula is our venture aimed at reducing plastics used in the food chain. Where the shorter value chain of our Fresh project allows us to cut out plastics from the start of the value chain. Hula is focussed on the end of the value chain, delivering prepared food to consumers without single use packaging.
Chile is seriously affected by land degradation and desertification, the permanent degradation of once arable land. The rural population in Chile suffers the direct consequences, with high rates of poverty and a lack of opportunities. By making use of sea buckthorn we can stop further desertification. Moreover, we can offer opportunities for healthy consumption, because sea buckthorn consists of berries that are a superfruit and natural extracts that can be uses for eco-friendly products.
These three ventures are just the start! There is need for more innovative solutions to tackle all the issues and really create a circular economy that’s fit for the future. In the pursuit of our vision for 2050 we will be building many more ventures that make an impact in central Chile and together with other projects can make our vision described below a reality.
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Enviu Chile SA
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Small company (under 50 employees)
Website of Legally Registered Entity
https://www.enviu.org / https://restore.cl
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
Zona Central de Chile. Regions: Coquimbo (IV) , Metropolitana de Santiago, Valparaíso (V) & O'Higgins (VI). These regions cover ~88.000 km2.
What country is your selected Place located in?
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
Our team is a mix of Chileans (born and raised in Zona Central, mainly Santiago) and Dutch people, who have experience at Enviu in the Netherlands but now live in Santiago. We are all very driven to create positive change in Chile! The idea of Enviu was actually born here. In 2002, our founder Stef set up his first impact-driven venture: an alternative, eco-tourism system in Isla Navarino and expanded it to areas like Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas. In his project he combined positive and social environmental impact with a profitable business model, providing the local communities new opportunities. Seeing the success of this triple impact formula, he founded Enviu when he was back in the Netherlands in 2004. Since then Enviu is building impact-driven ventures around the world. At first focusing on other countries, but since early 2019 we are back in Chile where it all begun. Our ambition here is to create a circular food economy. We all feel very personally connected to this theme in different ways. Members of our team:
- Own and operate a restaurant for healthy food in Santiago
- Have grown up in the countryside
- Had the dream as a child to become a farmer
- Have been vegetarian for a total of over 40 years
- Operate a business selling healthy, vegetarian products in Chile
We feel deeply connected to Chile. Especially in this turbulent time, there is a strong need for change. Both socially and environmentally. Let’s create positive change!
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
Farmer working the land at one of our partner farms.
To get a full understanding of Zona Central in Chile and to go beyond literature and our own experiences to form our vision, we have been in touch with multiple actors, including consumers/inhabitants, restaurants, farmers, NGOs and governmental organizations (e.g. ministry of agriculture, INDAP, CONAF).
While Chile has gone through major economic developments and is part of OECD, the Gini coefficient is one of the highest in the world. Social inequality is a deep-rooted challenge in Chile and a big theme at this moment. This has recently become very clear because of the ongoing protests. Cost of living are high, while the minimum income is low, equal to approximately 400 USD/month. Access to good education and health care are major challenges for a big part of the population.
With its diverse landscape, Zona Central knows multiple climates (e.g. hot-summer Mediterranean, versus cold desert. The people in Zona Central are very aware of the impact of climate change; they face the consequences of lack of rain, ongoing droughts and water scarcity. Whilst desertification used to be an issue of the northern part of Chile, now it has even reached Santiago.
Agriculture has always been a big and important industry in Zona Central. There are many smallholder farmers that provide products for daily consumption. Moreover, fruit farmers produce for export (Chile is one of the main exporters of fruit in the world). The dominant crops vary per precise location: e.g. avocados in San Felipe and grapes in Curacaví. Horticulture is big and some dominant crops are grapes and berries, and all types of vegetables.
Although Santiago is very close to multiple agricultural hearts of Zona Central, people in Santiago don’t feel connected to the farmers. Most people in Santiago buy their food from supermarkets and miss the direct link to farmers, producing this food. When talking to consumers and restaurants in Santiago, it becomes clear that they are putting more thought into where their food comes from. People are interested in learning about farmers and how they can buy healthier and fresher products.
Santiago plays an important role in this area: it is the place where the biggest part is being consumed and it is a logistical hub. Rural and urban cultures differ significantly: Santiago is full of people and activity, whilst rural areas are quieter and often poorer. Especially smallholder farmers often have a poor socio-economic situation. In our intensive contact with smallholder farmers, they emphasize their need for help and an improved position.
Unhealthy food and obesity are big challenges in the region. This problem is strongly intertwined with social inequality, as a big share of the relatively poorer inhabitants are overweight. Barbecues play a large role in the region’s food culture, in which meat is also an important part. Though Zona Central has plenty of fruits and vegetables, in supermarkets sweets and snacks are unfortunately cheaper than the healthier products.
What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
During our analysis we have spoken to stakeholders throughout the value chain and done desk research and it has shown that the food & drinks value chain in Chile already faces severe environmental and social issues, from production to consumption. The current linear supply chain of fast-moving consumer goods produces enormous amounts of waste and leads to a depletion of natural resources, such as water and soil. The unique size of the country, with its many climates, currently allows for the cultivation of a wide variety of crops, both for export and domestic consumption. Agriculture is a top sector of the Chilean economy. However, climate change poses major challenges on the sector as severe droughts, soil erosion and water scarcity cause arable land to be less productive and eventually even non-productive due to desertification and water shortages. Intensive agriculture with the use of many pesticides and fertilizers further exhaust soils. Already desertification of the soil has become a problem in all of Zona Central and is limiting the amount of land suitable for agriculture. In total, 21,7% of Chilean territory is now suffering from desertification. Due to the urgent need for water in agriculture in combination with privatization of water, the government has favored agriculture access to water. As a result, there’s limited amount of water left for individuals.
Chile faces many challenges in nearly all steps of the food chain; the flaws in food production and food distribution enhance social inequality in the region. There is a massive amount of food loss (vegetables, fruits), while at the same time a big share of the population can’t afford to buy this healthy food.
- The backbone of the regions agricultural sector are smallholder farmers. However, they don’t have a strong voice nor a negotiation power to receive fair prices for their products, making them a marginalized and relatively poor group of Zona Central.
- From pre-harvesting towards post-consumer, a tremendous amount of food loss and food waste occur. Causes are damage during transport, spoiling of produce during the long and time-consuming value chain, excess stock in supermarkets and restaurants. Adding up to a total food loss of a shocking 40%; a number that doesn’t even include food waste by end-consumers.
For end-consumers, at the end of the food value chain, health problems, caused by a poor diet are a serious problem. The Chilean diet is a big issue; according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Chile has the second highest rates of obesity among OECD countries. As a response to these challenges, the Chilean government has introduced strict food labeling laws, introducing seals that warn people about, e.g., the fat and sugar content of processed foods. However, as healthy food is relatively expensive and a fairly large part of the population is fairly poor, it can be questioned if these laws will have sufficient impact.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
Restore Venture Studio redesigns the food economy in Zona Central, the way we farm and consume, by building circular businesses in close cooperation with everyone involved. We transform the agricultural system in close collaboration with the farmers, to strengthen their position and by adopting regenerative practices. We create solutions to eliminate waste streams. We believe in a shorter and fairer food chain, in which we reduce food loss, deliver fair value to the producer, provide access to healthy food and stop the constant extraction of natural resources.
We believe that building sustainable ventures is the right approach to tackle these problems and the driver for lasting change. We believe that a profitable business model can be combined with creating positive impact. Having a financially viable model, enables structural positive impact. We are already building and will continue to build many ventures that contribute to a sustainable food economy in Zona Central. These ventures strengthen each other and by doing so create a ‘new normal’.
We believe that the two current ventures illustrate our ambition, as they make impact on different parts of the food chain and strengthen each other to contribute to a circular food economy. With DesertSpring we revive poor soils and combat land degradation to ensure the land keeps being arable for farmers and local communities, and with Fresh we support farmers to produce more sustainable and have better linkages to the market. In both cases, we offer socio-economic opportunities to marginalized communities.
A pioneering company, growing, processing and selling sea buckthorn products, as we have a patented innovative technology to make a bio-based extract that can be used in the apparel production process. The company has an enormous impact potential:
1. Sea buckthorn is a shrub that can grow in harsh climates, thrives in poor soils, and restores nitrogen to the soil; by growing this plant we can revive degraded land and help the region combat desertification.
2. By growing it with local, rural communities in Chile, it provides them agricultural and economic opportunities.
Fresh aims to radically improve the food value chain in Zona Central by introducing our farm-to-fork model with triple impact: the income of small farmers, the diet of Chileans, and the environment.
1. Shorten the value chain and offer small farmers a better price for their produce. With this extra income they will be able to be resilient, invest in their business and support their family.
2. Provide consumers an easy, simple and more affordable option of healthy fruits, vegetables and organic products. Thereby, making healthy food more accessible for marginalized population.
3. Offering farmers the opportunity to implement sustainable, regenerative practices and growing organically. The amount of water, pesticides, (chemical) fertilizers are reduced, improving soil and water quality.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
The sustainable food system we’re creating in Zona Central is based on cooperation, believes in regenerative agriculture, takes care of our natural resources, enhances social equality and food security, stimulates conscious consumption and doesn’t believe in waste. Our ambition with Restore Venture Studio is to create a circular food economy in Chile by 2050. We believe it possible to redesign the way we farm and consume, by building circular businesses that can strengthen each other and are designed to eliminate food waste, keep products and materials in use and regenerate natural systems. We ideate new business models, create new sustainable businesses together with our partners, and bring proven sustainable innovations to Chile. In 2050 we’ll have fueled the change towards:
- Adaptation to climate change affects and providing economic opportunities by adopting climate smart agriculture.
- A circular and regenerative agricultural sector, in which the soils are fertile, and desertification is put to a halt, organic waste is used as fertilizer, and water is used intelligently in a closed loop.
- Farmers and local rural communities have a strong role in the food sector and receive fair prices for their products.
- A food system that is without food waste by design, causing an enormous shift in food distribution as all production is truly used for consumption; hence, protecting food security.
- The economy has become fairer and opportunities will be created for marginalized communities.
- Access to healthy products for all
- Elimination of plastic waste throughout the food & drinks value chain
We believe in collaboration and believe that we can only make this work if we work directly with all relevant parties in Zona Central. Therefore, we are in touch with e.g. local farming communities, consumers, government (incl. municipalities, Ministry of Agriculture), universities, corporates, investors, start-ups, NGOs and renowned institutes like CONAF (National Forest Corporation).
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Diagram linking our own vision to the impacts as drawn in the Food System Map from the toolkit.
Our impact area marked green on a map of the southern tip of South America.
Satellite image of Chile with our impact area visible.
We believe in a Chilean food economy, in which current waste streams are either eliminated or have become valuable input for other purposes. We believe in a shorter and fairer food chain, in which food loss has been reduced, that can deliver fair value to the producer and stop the constant extraction of natural resources. We believe in a resilient food system fit for the uncertain future, where everyone has access to fresh and healthy foods and fresh water in spite of climate change and in which conscious consumption is the norm, not the exception.
To realize our ambition, the production and consumption of food and drinks in Zona Central needs to become circular and sustainable water management practices need to be implemented. Multiple interventions that complement and strengthen each other in order to work towards a new food economy are needed to realize this ambition.
Our region has a total population of almost 11 million people out of the nearly 19 million in the entire country of Chile. The vast majority of these people live in cities and this number is projected to grow further until 2050. Apart from the capital Santiago, several other big cities, such as Valparaiso, are situated in this part of the country. Nonetheless, cities take up only a small part of the geographical area and a large amount of the land is used for agriculture. The South of the region is home to a highly productive agriculture and produces fruits and vegetables for big parts of the region, as well as for export. The North, however, is dry and reaches the south of the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world. Currently desertification is not only a problem in the North of our selected region but can be encountered everywhere from North to South, thereby threatening the agricultural sector and food security in Zona Central
In our vision for 2050, the advancing desertification is put to a halt and degraded land has been restored. Sustainable water management practices that don’t favor mining and industrial scale agriculture have been implemented and poor-quality soils have been improved by growing the right plants and crops to enrich the soils again as well as by rotating the crops and intercropping. Climate Smart Agriculture, in which farmers adopted resilient crops (such as sea buckthorn) and implement crop diversification to cope with climate change affects are implemented on a large scale in Zona Central. Regenerative farming practices and organic production have increased production yields, biodiversity, soils are enriched, and water is efficiently used and recycled in closed-loops systems, reducing water shortage in the region enormously. This all has assured a continuing food production and a stable food value chain with ensured food security (access to healthy food) in a region coping with severe climate change affects. Chile as a country is very vulnerable to climate change, the adaptations made to keep a functioning food economy under changing conditions can serve as valuable learnings for the rest of the world.
Local farming communities have regained their livelihoods as they are able to make a living out of the land, that has been put back to use, allowing local rural communities to unlock new economic opportunities. Hence, their quality of life has improved, and capital has become available for farmers to invest in strengthening their regenerative and sustainable agricultural practices.
Smallholder farmers produce diverse crops, have a stronger market voice and will have significantly increased their income, as they have access to higher margins. With this extra income they will be able to support their family and give their children better education. Farmers have experienced the increased yield and reduced operational costs of producing in an organic way and applying regenerative practices. They are able and willing to invest in their business, in the quality of their production and produce their food in a more sustainable and regenerative way, limiting their use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers and minimizing water usage. Their organic farming practices have positively influenced local biodiversity and health and is a significant part of the agricultural production in Zona Central. Technological solutions are available and, even more important, are accessible for smaller farmers as they are available as a service. Farmers have easy access to apps and technologies optimizing their harvesting, sowing, periods and optimize their inputs as well as water usage. Storing methods to prevent post-harvest loss and sharing apps to prevent post-consumer loss are the new normal. Farming is highly dependent on solar energy, it’s the ‘to go to’ energy source accessible throughout Zona Central.
People living in one of the big cities that Zona Centralis home to, will be more connected to the food that they eat. The majority of the population has access to high quality healthy food, as they can afford the lower prices, reducing the health challenges (such as obesity) in the region. This fits the local culture, as vegetables and eating vegetarian is an important part of the diet. The food value chain in Chile has become short and efficient, and consumer and farmers are directly linked. This has benefitted smallholder farmers, as well as created awareness amongst the general public and the environment. Farm to Fork production is the new normal.
In 2050 healthy food has become more accessible for a large part of the population in Zona Central, with Chilean farmers as the driving force behind it. Local farmers are the backbone of regional food hubs, in which they have strong links to the market in the region, throughout the value chain. Local policies incentivize healthy diets and tax unhealthy food. Food waste has been limited tremendously by short value chains, cold storage of surplus production, turning food waste or surplus during production into new products and food is well distributed throughout the region. As the entire population has access to affordable healthy food, food security in times of climate change, is safeguarded within Zona Central. People are knowledgeable about healthy diets as well as where the origin of their food and growing methods.
In 2050, policies to tackle social inequality have sorted effect. Access to good quality education, health care, food and financial security is widely available for all Chileans in Zona Central. This will stimulate sustainable, conscious healthy consumption as well as improve the position of smallholder farmers. The government supports the unionization of farmers which gives them a stronger position and increases their resilience. Water rights are de-privatized / government owned, and water is more widely accessible for everybody.
The culmination of our vision is a Zona Central with a strong waste free food economy in which consumer and producer have a strong link to the food they eat and produce. The resilient and grounded food economy will have inspired other equally vulnerable regions to take action and not just fight climate change but adapt and improve the food system. Zona Central will be a strong agricultural and healthy food hub, where consumers and farmers have a strong link, people are proud of their local grown, organic products and cherish the resources available in the region.
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