Naomi Mackenzie, co-founder KITRO: ”Reducing food waste by a mere 25% could solve the issue of hunger worldwide”

Naomi Mackenzie is co-founder of KITRO, a company that aims to harness the power of data to save valuable resources and bring back the value of all food.

With experience working in the food industry, Naomi witnessed the enormous amount of edible food being thrown away every day, which led her to commit to reducing avoidable food waste in the sector. So, together with Anastasia Hoffman, she set up KITRO, an idea she had developed while studying at the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne. Since then, the two have been working to provide the hospitality industry with solutions to the growing problem of food waste.

Naomi will be one of the speakers at the Climate Change Summit, the largest event in Central and Eastern Europe dedicated to climate change, which will take place on 19-20 October in Bucharest. Over the two days, dozens of climate innovation and environmental policy leaders, researchers, entrepreneurs and government officials will come together in a joint effort to find local and regional solutions for a sustainable future. The event is open to the public and registration is at

Naomi spoke to us about her experience in the food waste sector, with painful realities and possible solutions, about KITRO, from idea to future plans, and about her expectations for the Climate Change Summit experience this fall.


Naomi, given your extensive experience, would you be willing to share your valuable insights on the matter of food waste? Additionally, could you highlight the primary solutions that each of us can implement?


The staggering statistics reveal that one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost annually, amounting to a colossal economic, social, and environmental cost of $2.6 trillion. This leads to approximately 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing food waste by a mere 25% could solve the issue of hunger worldwide. While the causes of food waste may vary from country to country, the reality remains that unnecessary resources are wasted across the entire supply chain.

This is a devastating realization, realization demands immediate action to combat this grave issue. Recognizing the devastating social and environmental impact, co-founder Anastasia Hofmann and I founded KITRO over 5 years ago, driven by the desire to make a difference in the hospitality industry. Witnessing kilos of perfectly edible food being discarded daily in kitchens and service establishments prompted us to take action.


What inspired you to start KITRO and commit yourself to reducing avoidable food waste in the food and beverage industry?


The inspiration for KITRO came from the environmental and social impact it could have. Our mission is to restore the value of all food, ensuring it is appreciated and not wasted.


Can you tell us more about the journey from the initial idea of KITRO during your studies at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne to where it is today?


Ana and I met at EHL and actually did our second internship together.  The issue of food waste weighed heavily on our minds during our second internship at Faena, where lavish events produced excessive amounts of food that went to waste. Witnessing homelessness nearby and being denied the opportunity to share surplus food further solidified our belief that food waste is socially, environmentally, and financially irresponsible. Starting with a basic 3D printed prototype, we relentlessly iterated and gathered customer feedback to refine our product and maximize our impact.


Working in the food and beverage industry in both kitchens and services, you witnessed the amount of edible food thrown away daily. Which were the most surprising discoveries along the way?


One of the most surprising revelations was how desensitized we had become to the value of food waste. It is far easier to dispose of something than to transform or change our behavior. Fear of liability often makes us choose to discard food rather than give it away. Initially, much of the industry denied the waste problem, but now, awareness has grown, and everyone is seeking ways to measure, monitor, and reduce food waste.


The food and beverage industry can be quite wasteful. What strategies does KITRO employ to encourage businesses to reduce food waste and appreciate the value of food?


KITRO not only provides automated data collection but also offers tailored advice on food waste mitigation practices and concrete actions based on reliable and long-term data. Analyzing patterns and trends from the data, KITRO sets food waste reduction targets and identifies areas for improvement in planning, work processes, and preparation. This approach has resulted in an average reduction of 30% in avoidable food waste across our portfolio within the first five months of implementation, leading to substantial savings in annual food costs.


As a co-founder, what are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned so far in your entrepreneurial journey with KITRO?


One of the most valuable lessons we’ve learned is the significance of staying true to our core values. We have six core values that guide us: Forward thinking, quality, candor, resource efficiency, impact, and enjoying the journey. These values serve as our compass, guiding us through challenging decisions and ensuring that our choices are driven by our beliefs rather than fear. Additionally, we prioritize open communication and feedback, engaging with our customers and team members from all levels to continuously improve and fine-tune our solutions.


How do you perceive the collaboration and dynamic between women in business, considering your partnership with Anastasia Hofmann, co-founder at KITRO?


As female Co-CEO we want to show not only the strength in women led companies but that together we are stronger than alone. We want to represent that there doesn’t need to be just one person at the top of every company. That the division of labour and sharing of responsibilities, can lead to more efficient, inclusive and impactful results. Through collaboration we can make strides, where women support women.


How do you envision the future of the company? What do you hope to achieve in the long term?


Our vision for the future is to ensure that all resources, especially food, are valued and appreciated. Our passion for addressing the environmental and social impact drives us forward. We strive to build a company that maintains a significant positive impact while upholding our core values. Sustainable entrepreneurship remains at the forefront of our mission, benefiting all stakeholders, including our team, customers, investors, and the planet.


You will be one of the Climate Change Summit speakers. What are your expectations regarding the Summit? What will be the key messages of your speech?


I am excited to be part of the Climate Change Summit and hope to raise awareness about the critical issue of food waste and how data-driven solutions can drive meaningful change. I want to emphasize that all food has value and that leveraging technology to automate processes can effectively mitigate waste.

On an individual level, I hope my speech will prompt everyone to reflect on their behavior and expectations, leading them to reduce food waste and appreciate the value of our precious resources.


How do you see such initiatives that bring together specialists and try to find solutions to the challenges of climate change?


Initiatives that bring together specialists to collaborate and find solutions for climate change challenges are absolutely crucial. By fostering dialogue and sharing expertise, we can uncover existing solutions and implement effective strategies. It is through such collaborative efforts that we can drive real change and create a sustainable future for generations to come.


Editor: Mara Rusu