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Economy, health and climate: Startup of the week guides consumers to the right supermarket purchase

Making the right choice at the supermarket can be overwhelming – whether you’re thinking about sustainability, health or your wallet. This week’s Startup of the Week guides consumers in the right direction and provides clarity by automatically analysing their receipts.

There are many things to consider when stocking the fridge at the supermarket. Of course, price and quality are important. It also needs to be healthy. And of course there are all the brands, from organic and fair trade to climate impact and animal welfare, to consider.

There’s plenty of information – in fact, so much that it can be a jungle to navigate. And this is where the start-up Optius from Fredericia wants to help consumers find their way.

“We’re a consumer app that’s all about providing insights to consumers based on their purchases. There’s a lot of information out there today, but what good is it if you can’t use it for anything? That’s really what we’re trying to solve here,” explains Sebastian Lomborg Marshall, co-founder of Optius.

The startup solution integrates with several receipt services, so the receipt from the supermarket purchase is automatically imported into the app. From there, the app sorts the purchases itself, so the user can see in detail where the money has been spent; a kind of Luxury Trap on steroids, where the food budget is revealed in great detail.

“We’ve developed an artificial intelligence that reads every line on the receipt – and can work out that the plant-based sausage goes in the plant-based diet category while the juice goes in the non-alcoholic drinks. So that way the user gets insight into their consumption and can find out if they are actually eating as healthy as they think,” Sebastian explains.

Optius is free for consumers. The start-up makes money by selling market data to companies, so that consumers can ultimately better meet their needs in stores.

More than just price

In most households, food is one of the biggest items in the budget, and Optius helps to break down what is spent on sweets, vegetables or alcohol. And during development, the founder experienced first-hand the new insights that overview can bring.
“I found out that I had spent 800 kroner on carrier bags in one year. In the big picture, that might not be a lot of money, but just on carrier bags, I think. So from that day on, I pretty much always remembered my shopping net,” Sebastian says.

In a time of inflation and an uncertain economy, the app has become a money-saving tool for a number of users. But Optius doesn’t just provide a financial overview. The startup will also help users get an overview of their health and climate impact based on their purchases. And the app also shows what chemicals are in the products purchased and whether any of the previously purchased products have been recalled by the Food Safety Authority.

“Most people want to live healthier and more sustainably. But maybe only 1 in 10 really do, if you look at what they put in the basket,” Sebastian estimates.

First step to changing habits

For the start-up, it’s not just about giving users a financial overview. The big mission of the broad budgeting app is to create insights that can actively change habits – whether the goal is to become less climate-changing, to lose weight or to beat a lifestyle disease.

“To change your habits, you need to know what your habits actually are. If you know that and set goals for the change, you’re more likely to succeed,” says Sebastian.

He even discovered his own habit of buying too many plastic bags when shopping, which made him change the habit. And in the same way, he hopes the app will encourage users to change habits in big and small ways.

“The small choices you make every time you shop just mean a lot in the long run. Not just on the wallet like with the plastic bag, but also in terms of health and green choices. And it doesn’t really take that much. Once you know your habits, you can change them – and that’s what we want to help with,” he says.

The app was launched in September last year and has since got 7,000 users on board. Optius has just received funding from the Innovation Fund’s Innofounder programme to scale and develop more features in the app.

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