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A box full of varied, high-quality foods that are healthy and completely vegan – by monthly subscription or as a one-time surprise. That’s the idea behind Whole Food Box. For five years now, the founders Rosa and Johann Koppelmann have been eating vegan and exclusively organic products. With each Whole Food Box they are thus passing on their experience and enthusiasm for wholesome food.
In our interview, Rosa talks about how her young start-up has developed, which Whole Food Box is best suited for beginners, what they look for when choosing products and how they treat their own sweet tooth.
Dear Rosa, meanwhile they are many providers of subscription boxes in the market. You have been shipping your whole food boxes since 2016. Why did you enter this market and who would you like to address with your boxes?
R O S A Two reasons made us decide to found the Whole Food Box back in 2016: First, as a nutritionist, I was looking for a way to combine a wholesome, plant-based diet with more fun factor. That’s when I came up with the idea of doing it with a subscription box, bringing new inspiration and motivation to our customers’ homes every month. At the same time I was a customer of another box and was always unhappy with the products that contained a lot of sugar, fat or even alcohol. As a consumer I was looking for an alternative – and it did not exist! So we started out of our parental leave head over heels!
How strong has Whole Food Box been growing since 2016 and can you possibly derive a trend towards a healthy, vegan diet from that?
R O S A The demand was already very high in 2016! Not only vegans found and find our offer interesting, but also those who want to eat less refined sugar, less fat, less white flour or just want to try something new and expand their own food horizon. Therefore, in our opinion, we grew more with our investments: at the beginning they were very small and could only gradually increase over time. In any case, we can say that the trend is not decreasing!
You have different boxes in the program. Which box do you recommend for people who want to get a full and vegan diet for the first time?
R O S A Depending on how your own everyday life is designed, I recommend our breakfast box and / or our snack box. With the breakfast box you can just start with a meal, the breakfast, and if that is complete every day, then you have already won 1/3! The snack box is ideal for those who often stand in the office at the vending machine in the afternoon and pull the trigger – you can grab into the box instead and enjoy a guaranteed wholesome snack. If you are keen to experiment and also like to cook, then of course our subscription box is the best choice, because every month there is a new dose of inspiration and motivation!
What is especially important to you when choosing your suppliers? Are you also pushing limits?
R O S A Most important to us is that the products in our box come from organic agriculture, because we do not want to be responsible for destroying our soil through pesticides, insecticides and more. In addition, “clean” ingredients are important to us – flavors, tons of fat and oil or additives are not in our box. In fact, we often reach our limits here. Of the requests we get, I have to deny about 1/3.
You founded your company in Leipzig two years ago. What were your important milestones, what support did you have and would you do it again?
R O S A We started quite blindly into the whole project and had no idea what we were doing exactly. After six months on the market we were offered a scholarship from the Social Impact Lab Leipzig, which we gratefully accepted! In the Social Impact Lab, we had for the first time established a network of experts and, for example, also met our current office and warehouse partners. We’ve moved to a new shop system twice in the last two years, and both moves were important milestones. Then, after 1 ½ years of chaos in our own apartment, we finally moved to a large warehouse in the old ‘Pianofabrik’ in Leutzsch, which was also an important step. The DHL in Leipzig already knew us well: We were common talk in the city, because we were the crazy ones who once a month brought hundreds of boxes from the third floor down when DHL came to pick them up. This is now much more comfortable now! Would we do it again? Absolutely!
What are your plans for Whole Food Box in 2019 and the next years?
R O S A In 2019 we would like to expand our team and take someone firmly into the management. This is a big but important step, because for the first time we will really handover responsibility. For us, that will mean new freedom for other projects and our family. At the moment we also consider to hand over the packing of the boxes to the local ‘Lebenshilfe’ workshop. However, we do not know yet whether this will be possible in organizational terms, because often the goods for our boxes arrive at the last minute and then very quickly, a great deal has to be packed.
Finally and frankly: How often does it happen that you do not fancy a wholesome, vegan diet and how do you deal with it?
R O S A We often hear this question and unfortunately have to say: never really! Never something non-vegan, anyway. We don’t like to teat animals and since I am a mother myself, I find it terrible to imagine how mother cow and calf are separated, so that someone else can drink the mother’s milk while the calf is fed with bottle feeding. We really never have any desire for anything from the animal. Rarely do we ever eat a piece of chocolate with raw cane sugar and sometimes we will have vegan kebabs (white flour), but unfortunately I can not offer much more, haha.