ARS is a research structure based in Fundão. Get to know this special place. Based in Fundão, in the district of Castelo Branco, ARS is
We know that, just like us, there are hundreds of other projects wanting to do more for the planet. We went to them to find out more about what drives them and what we can expect from them. Once a week, one startup, one interview, five questions.
We talked to Álvaro Pérez-Segnini and Camila López, a couple who came from Venezuela to revolutionize the way Portugal eats peanut butter (and beyond).
With Bliss Out they started exactly by offering a different peanut butter to the market, adding spices and superfoods, which not only gave it flavor, but also made it more nutritionally rich.
Saffron, maca, and cinnamon are some of the ingredients that make these products unique in the market. But this entrepreneurial couple didn’t want to stop at peanuts. They have also launched an innovative alternative to the conventional vegetable drink in Portugal (and with little competition abroad). With Mylk, instead of multiple drink containers, they offer one bottle with one powdered mixture, making the product more sustainable and long-lasting.
What problem is your startup solving?
Bliss Out, as a brand, focuses on bringing healthy, delicious, functional food to everyone. However, our MYLK line, a range of concentrates for making vegetable milk at home, responds to a gap in the market: making vegetable milk more sustainable, healthier, and delicious. We got rid of water, artificial ingredients, and conventional packaging to offer consumers the healthy and essential ingredients needed to make fresh vegetable milk quickly, with minimal waste. We were pioneers in Portugal, and we are one of the few in Europe to do so.
In which countries are you present?
In Portugal, but planning to launch in Spain in 2023. It is a natural progression for the brand, and we feel ready to do it now. Spain is the second largest market for plant-based milk in Europe and is therefore a country with immense potential. On a personal level, we have lived in Madrid for some time, and Spanish is our first language. It makes sense for us that Spain is our second country to launch Bliss Out.
Why the sustainability area to start a business?
In the current state of the world, I couldn’t imagine bringing anything to market that wasn’t sustainable. I think that, nowadays, sustainability should be an imperative factor and not a differentiating factor.
What are the biggest obstacles of working in this area?
The consumer packaged goods industry is extremely complex. There are many barriers to entry, and the system is dominated and made for the giants. I would say the biggest hurdle is educating the consumer, when you have little or no marketing budget. When you work in the field of sustainability and you are surrounded by like-minded people, you tend to forget that most of society has little knowledge about how their food choices affect the environment. Also, there is a big difference between what people say and what they actually do. Consumer behavior in front of a supermarket shelf is difficult to understand, and choice often depends on price. Unfortunately, responsible and sustainable products with traceable raw materials are rarely the cheapest option. Furthermore, it doesn’t help that organic and vegetarian products pay 23% VAT. That should change immediately.
Unfortunately, due to the post-pandemic madness and the current economic problems, the organic category saw a decrease in sales during 2022 for the first time in years, making it even more difficult for us to continue to grow. However, we are not giving up, and we are happy to say that this year we have grown 100% compared to 2021!
What achievement are you most proud of as the leader of this startup?
The launch of Oat MYLK, a product that took us more than a year to develop. There were times when I thought we wouldn’t make it, because of all the costs associated with the launch, but we did, and we are very proud.
What is the next step?
The next step is the launch in Spain. Of course we continue to develop products, and soon we will be launching a new MYLK format, which we are super excited about because it will make it accessible to more people, which is always a priority for us.
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Sustainable Development Goals 🍃
This article promotes an action that encourages the reduction of waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling, and reuse.