RELEX: Helping large retailers take a bigger bite out of food waste

Every year, the European Union discards around 88 million tonnes of food waste. This is a big problem – big enough to fill six football stadiums to the brim. But the good news is that there are effective solutions to tackle food waste.

For Finland’s RELEX Solutions, helping grocery retailers fight food waste is a priority. This EIC-funded company developed a retail planning and optimisation system that increases the efficiency and reduces the spoilage of the food value chain including retailers, wholesalers, and food manufacturers.

In February 2022, RELEX Solutions raised €500 million for its software platform that automates retail supply chains, helping grocers reduce food waste and meet consumer demand more efficiently. Blackstone Growth, a unit of New York-based asset manager Blackstone, led the round with participation from several other institutional investors.

As one of a dozen highly valued companies supported by the EIC Accelerator, RELEX Solutions is the recipient of one of the largest investments in the Enterprise Software sector. In 2020, it reported Technology Crossover Ventures had invested €176 million into RELEX Solutions.

The company, founded in 2005, counts 1 300 employees in offices worldwide (Finland, France, Portugal, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Germany, UK, US, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia).

In an interview, Alexandra Sevelius, the company’s vice-president of marketing, explains their remarkable path to unicorn start-up status.

Can you tell us about RELEX’s key breakthrough technology for the food retail sector?

During the project RELEX further developed its software for the food retail sector in order to increase efficiencies and reduce spoilage across supply chains. With a strong focus on developing new and improved forecasting methods RELEX enables food retailers to produce high quality forecasts resulting in better planning and reduced inventory levels, increased sales and decreased spoilage.

What are the social or economic benefits arising from this technology?

Estimates suggest food waste accounts for 8-10% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, and of the 931 million tonnes of food wasted each year globally, 13% is generated by retailers. With the rise of both regulations and corporate initiatives to reduce waste and drive social, economic, and environmental benefits, RELEX Solutions is a key partner for companies to reach their sustainability goals without sacrificing customer experience.

RELEX Solutions achieves this by impacting every stage of the supply chain, helping consumer packaged goods companies develop accurate production timelines and ensuring retailers can secure supply in the right amounts in time to meet consumer demand without causing waste.

As a result, retailers and brands see cost savings, up to a 30% reduction in inventory, and 40% less fresh spoilage, while shoppers see higher availability, more appealing store displays—and fresher food products, reducing the risk of household food waste as well.

Becoming a unicorn is the envy of all start-ups. How did you make it? How did the support from EIC help you?

Our customer obsession and focus on delivering measurable value through cutting-edge technology are our key growth drivers. Our customers value technology that enables them to respond quickly to external disruptions and drive rapid innovations in sales and fulfilment channels, product offering, and store formats without missing a beat in their supply chain, merchandising, and operational planning.

The EIC helped us accelerate the development of our products and has been an important support in our journey to becoming global market leader in our field.

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