What happens to winners of the Local EAT Award?

Published April 24, 2017

We spoke to 2015’s winning company, Keep-it Technologies, and Kristen Hovland who won 100 000 kr for their idea – a shelf-life indicator for temperature-sensitive products.

It’s been two years since you won the Local Eat Award. How has your participation in the Award helped you develop your idea?

As the winner of the 2015 Local EAT Award, and with the exposure we gained at the EAT Forum, we’ve increased our visibility among key groups for the Keep-it shelf-life indicator. Keep-it is the only device that can give continuous information about the actual expiration of a product by registering temperature change over time.

The award gave us an opportunity to raise our profile in a credible way to potential customers and has been incredibly useful for our PR- and advertising efforts.

The cash prize also made a welcome contribution to our advertising budget and helped us spread knowledge about the indicator to consumers. In October 2016 we had achieved 39 % familiarity with the product among the Norwegian population. We know consumer acceptance of the product is high, around 81 %, so increasing familiarity really is the most important way to create demand.

Our most important commercial target groups are in retail, particularly industry and supermarket chains, and the award gave us credibility and a strong starting point for approaching potential buyers in this sector. Today, REMA 1000 is our most important customer and the supermarket chain is at the forefront of tackling food waste, in part through its use of the Keep-it indicators.

So, the award has primarily helped us commercialize and market the shelf-life indicator. Since the start, we’ve sold over 25 million indicators, and in 2017 we project we will reach a volume of 30 million indicators in Norway, for 32 different perishable products. The plan moving forward is to launch Keep-it on a number of markets in Europe throughout the year.

How did you increase knowledge about this innovation in your local community?

The most important measure in the phase we’re at right now, is to focus on sales to chains and producers so we build commercial agreements in Norway and Europe. We are also constantly working to build the Keep-it brand, and increase familiarity with consumers, as we know they have a high level of acceptance for the product.

As a start-up we have limited funds, so press and word of mouth are particularly valuable to us. Awards like the Local EAT Award are important for increasing the visibility of companies like ours.

What are your best tips for entrepreneurs?

The most important thing of course is to have a unique idea or product that there is an unequivocal need for on the market. Smart, dedicated employees and a good business model are also essential. And it’s very important to think through what it will take to develop a product from an idea to commercial production – this usually takes a lot longer than you think and unfortunately this is where many mistakes are made. Patient, long-term investors are therefore an essential part of the team.

How do you think sustainability contributes to building the brand profile of this innovation?

Product quality and reduced food waste are increasingly important to consumers, both in Norway and in the rest of Europe. In 2016, France passed a law prohibiting supermarket chains from throwing away food, Italy has new legislation in this area and the UK has placed food waste high on the political agenda. The timing of our international launch is perfect.

With a bigger focus on sustainability among international policy-makers, commercial stakeholders and consumers, comes increased potential for the Keep-it indicator.

 

What does the future look like for your solution?

”Sell-by dates were best before”, as we often say, and smart shelf-life indicators like Keep-it represent the future. There are multiple benefits to Keep-it, as it contributes to improved food safety, ensures product quality and helps reduce food waste in the whole supply chain. For consumers it becomes easier to plan meals, to see what you should eat and when, and you end up throwing away less food, which is good for the environment and your wallet.

We are increasing the volume in Norway considerably this year, launching in Europe throughout the year and see a very bright future. We have just completed an issuance which will enable us to finance the international expansion and increase production in Alna, Oslo.

Keep-it Technologies has every opportunity right now to create a new Norwegian success story on the international arena.

Applications for the Local EAT Award will be accepted from April 6th through May 10th. Apply at www.eatforum.org/lea

The Local EAT Award is searching for Scandinavia’s next green food entrepreneurs, to select the best idea in healthy and sustainable food. The annual competition is held by Nordic Choice Hotels, the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), the Swedish Federation of Business Owners (Företagarna) and EAT Foundation. The winning idea is rewarded with a cash prize of 100 000 NOK, a mentorship meeting with Petter A. Stordalen and participation at the Stockholm Food Forum, June 12-13th.