Food & beverage

What is it? Food4Feed4Food is an initiative by Nijsen Company, a regional Dutch SME which produces and sells pig feed. Food4Feed4Food is about excluding raw resources by collecting residual food products from supermarkets and reusing these streams for producing animal feed, from which ultimately, the meat would be sold in the same supermarkets that delivered the residual resources.  

Why is this important? The pork sector is known for its efficiency, but the as­sociated economic gains come with downsides and the sector faces major challenges in maintaining its ‘license to produce’. The main pressures are an in­creasing human demand for food and protein, stand­ards for food safety, public demand for animal welfare, sustainable production, a circular bioeconomy and less pollution of water sources, soil, and air, as well as land use competition between humans and animals (Nijsen/Granico, 2017). As a result, calls for transfor­mation are mounting. However, large sector stake­holders in particular, such as supermarkets and meat processors, have been rather unresponsive and have attempted to keep prices low while posing higher de­mands on pig farmers and feeding companies. Nijsen company realized that further scale-up of production and efficiency was insufficient to provide a long-term outlook for the pork sector, and that there was a dire need for novel approaches to pork production.

Main resource strategy: Closing the loop by collecting residual resources and re-suppling supermarkets with the new products made from these resources.

Other resource strategies: Slowing and narrowing the loop; slowing the loop for residual food products, by using them in a new resource stream, and preventing them from going to waste. Narrowing the loop as the environmental burden of producing pig feed radically decreases by using regional residual resources instead of imported soy scrap.

Business model aspects

Value Proposition:

To supermarkets: Circular, regional and more sustainable pork as a distinguishable product for their consumers
To farmers: A better price and steady sales market through a long-term value based contract, eliminating global competition
To butchers: Preferred supplier for supermarkets
To consumers: Circular, regional and more sustainable pork products
To municipalities: Enable addressing the ongoing pressures on the regional pig sector
To NGOs: A more environmental-friendly product

Value Creation & Delivery: Nijsen Company is responsible for orchestrating the value chain partners and resources, which are limited to a regional scope of Western Europe.

Value Capture: The value is captured through long-term contracts, based on an increased pricing, which is divided between farmers and Nijsen Group.

Business model experimentation practices:
Nijsen Group started to conduct net­work-building activities at the very start of Food4Feed4Food. A preliminary value creation & delivery network was set up, and experi­mentation took place which involved taking back the waste streams from the supermarket, to further develop the business model. The experimentation ultimately resulted in a change of Nijsen’s identity, by redefining their purpose as a pig feed producer into a provider of sustainable, circular meat concepts.


Velter, M., Bitzer, V., Bocken, N., & Kemp, R. (2021). Boundary work for collaborative sustainable business model innovation: the journey of a Dutch SME. Journal of Business Models, 9(4), 36-66. doi:10.5278/jbm.v9i4.6267

Velter, M., Bitzer, V., Bocken, N., & Kemp, R. (2020). Sustainable business model innovation: The role of boundary work for multi-stakeholder alignment. Journal of Cleaner Production, 247, 119497. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.119497


About project Circular X

Project Circular X is about ‘Experimentation with Circular Service Business Models’. It is an ambitious research project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) which supports top researchers from anywhere in the world. Project CIRCULAR X runs from 2020-2025.  The project is led by Principal Investigator (PI) Prof Dr Nancy Bocken, who is joined by a multidisciplinary team of researchers at Maastricht Sustainability Institute (MSI), Maastricht School of Business and Economics, Maastricht University. The project cooperates with businesses who want to innovate towards the circular economy.

Project Circular X addresses a new and urgent issue: experimentation with circular service business models (CSBMs). Examples of such new business models include companies shifting from selling products to selling services and introducing lifelong warrantees to extend product lifetimes. However, CSBMs are far from mainstream and research focused on experimentation is little understood.  The research aims to conduct interdisciplinary research with 4 objectives:

  1. Advancing understanding of CSBMs; their emergence and impacts
  2. Advancing knowledge on CSBM experimentation
  3. Developing CSBM experimentation tools
  4. Designing and deploying CSBM experimentation labs
Funding source

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, grant agreement No. 850159. 

Using this information

When you refer to this case, please use the following source:

Circular X. (2022) Case study: Nijsen Company - Food4Feed4Food. Accessed from