The company is already operational in 18 countries, including France, the United Kingdom, Japan, and New Zealand – and is now preparing to enter supermarkets in Portugal.

“The issue of food waste in Portugal is of great concern”, stresses the country general manager of WhyWaste in Brazil, in charge of the expansion of the startup to Portugal. “It is not just up to each Portuguese person to think about how they can contribute to reducing the 100 kilos of food they waste annually, but also to retailers, who must set an example”, Ricardo Salazar told ECO/Capital Verde.

The problem of food waste is not limited to Portugal. According to ECO, it is estimated that in the European Union alone, in 2020, almost 57 million tonnes of food were wasted, equivalent to 130 billion euros. Portugal, despite not occupying the podium positions (reserved for Germany, France and Italy, respectively), produces a total of 1.8 billion tonnes of wasted food.

WhyWaste is aiming to sign a contract “with at least one Portuguese food retailer” while opening an office in Lisbon that will serve to provide “support to local customers, with a structure mainly dedicated to sales”. After settling the operation in Portugal, the objective is to enter the Portuguese-speaking African Countries (PALOP) market, a mission that will be carried out by the 40 professionals integrated into the team and spread over offices in four countries.

Optimising systems

“In Portugal, we noticed that there is some adherence to a digital monitoring system, but without learning capacity. Our value proposition lies here: we are going to use big data and artificial intelligence where it is not being used, with the aim of optimising processes”, explained Ricardo Salazar.

With a digital solution that monitors the shelf life of products, through a database, in which the expiry dates of all foods are entered, the artificial intelligence system identifies when a product is at a critical date, taking into account indicators such as demand and seasonality.

“The objective is to evaluate these variables and adjust the price, solving two challenges: convincing the customer that this is a good price, without destroying the margin or the retailer’s image”, adds Ricardo Salazar, referring that this is “ongoing work where there is a big learning curve, but the results are almost immediate”.

WhyWaste's entry into Portuguese retail market will also alleviate net margins that he considers to be “increasingly tight”, ranging on average from 1 percent to 4 percent.

“Since waste represents between 2 percent and 3 percent of turnover, reducing food loss means improving the profitability of the food retail business model itself and, in many cases, enabling the financial return of the operation”, points out Ricardo Salazar.

But the impacts do not stop there and, according to the entrepreneur, the service also serves to optimise the allocation of human resources, enabling to “reduce by up to 90 percent the time dedicated by employees to monitoring due dates”. As an example, Ricardo Salazar tells ECO/Capital Verde how in a store in Brazil, where WhyWaste is present, he managed to reduce the 12 hours spent, on average, on managing expiry dates to around 1h10.